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March 2024: Harmful Effects of Sexualized Social Media

Culture Reframed is the premier science-based, global organization working to stop the emotional, behavioral, and sexual harms of pornography to children and youth. Join our online community to receive updates on our work, announcements of upcoming events, and the latest news related to pornography and youth.

This month, we delve into the profound influence of sexualized media on the developing minds of adolescents. Neurosurgeon Dr. Donald Hilton sheds light on the startling effects of early exposure to pornography and the significant role it can have in shaping long-term brain development.

With the average age of first exposure to pornography at just 12 years old, Dr. Hilton warns of the profound implications when pornography is viewed at such a young age.

The neuroscience of pornography helps us to understand the harmful effects of social media and gaming on young people, with specific regard to the prevalent sexualization within. Our team recently researched this extensively and published the findings in a new report, featured below. Culture Reframed’s Dr. Gail Dines and I will present on this topic at next month’s Empowered Parents Summit. Learn more and register for the free online event below!

These insights and studies underscore the importance of preparing young people to safely navigate the digital world. Learn more about promoting digital literacy and find guidance for supporting the tweens and teens in your life through our advanced library of resources. Together, we can create a safer, healthier world for our youth.


– Amanda Sanchez, PHD

Director of Programming, Culture Reframed

Neurosurgeon Donald Hilton Discusses Pornography’s Profound Effect on Adolescent Brains

Young people’s minds develop rapidly and are more easily influenced. Today, the average age of first exposure to pornography is 12 years old. It should be no surprise that research shows pornography can significantly impact long-term brain development when consumed from a young age. “Because pornography exposure occurs at younger ages,” said Dr. Donald Hilton, “it is influential in developing arousal templates and programming sexual scripts.”

The Harmful Effects of Sexualized Social Media and Gaming on Young People

Children aged 8-12 spend four to six hours daily in front of screens, according to a 2020 study from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. This means that for the highest tween users, their time absorbing media from smartphones, tablets, and gaming consoles is not far behind their time in school. For teens, the figure is closer to nine hours, far exceeding their school hours. What are they learning?

The answer to this question should be concerning to us all. Read highlights from Culture Reframed’s latest white paper, Sexualization, Social Media, and Video Gaming.

Child Abuse Prevention Virtual Conference | April 12, 2024

Culture Reframed’s Dr. Gail Dines and Dr. Mandy Sanchez are featured presenters at the Child Abuse Prevention virtual conference presented by Valley Children’s Healthcare. The event takes place Friday, April 12 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. PT / 11:30 to 3:30 p.m. ET.

Dr. Dines and Sanchez will provide a holistic public health approach to help participants address the impact of pornography on young people. The presentations will also discuss the risks of trafficking, grooming, violence, and impacts on emotional, social, and cultural development.

The free online conference is open to victim service providers, legal and medical professionals, law enforcement, government agencies, mental health providers, social workers, and educational professionals. Learn more and register.


Empowered Parents Summit 2024 | April 15-19, 2024

Dr. Dines and Sanchez will present “Standing up to Social Media’s Toxic Culture: How to Fight Child Sexualization and Pornography” next month at the Empowered Parents Summit. The free online event from April 15-19 features more than 45 experts addressing how to conquer child anxiety, tech addiction, school challenges, discipline, and parental burnout. Learn more and register.

What Others Are Saying

A Marketplace of Girl Influencers Managed by Moms and Stalked by Men (New York Times)

What often starts as a parent’s effort to jump-start a child’s modeling career, or win favors from clothing brands, can quickly descend into a dark underworld dominated by adult men, many of whom openly admit to being sexually attracted to children, an investigation by The New York Times found. Read now.

AI ‘Aggro-Rithms’: Young Boys Are Served Harmful Content Within 60 Seconds of Being Online (Vodafone)

On average, boys aged 11-14 are exposed to harmful content within 30 minutes of being online and 1-in-10 are seeing it in as little as 60 seconds. This worrying trend stems from AI algorithms pushing content promoting misogyny or violence to boys following innocent and unrelated searches. Read now.

Millions Blocked From Porn Sites as Free Speech, Child Safety Debate Rages Across US (USA Today)

A high-stakes battle over pornography, child safety and free speech is heating up across the nation, with more than a half-dozen states passing age-verification laws aimed at halting minors from accessing Pornhub and other adult websites. Read now.

Google Is Getting Thousands of Deepfake Porn Complaints (WIRED)

Content creators are using copyright laws to get nonconsensual deepfakes removed from the web. With the complaints covering nearly 30,000 URLs, experts say Google should do more to help. Read now.


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