While most think of alcohol, drugs and gambling when they hear the word ‘addiction’, there are many things to which people can become addicted. The truth is that any pattern of behaviour that has a negative impact on a person’s life can be classed as an addiction. Pornography addiction is a growing issue for many individuals, and most believe that it is the easy accessibility of porn today that is fuelling this increase.
Although not everyone who looks at porn will develop an addiction, there are some people for whom it will become a major problem – and one that will affect many areas of their lives. There are a number of risk factors for pornography addiction, and one of them is early exposure. The earlier a person is exposed to pornography, the more likely he or she is to become addicted.
In fact, a new report has found that children as young as eleven are becoming ‘desensitised’ to pornography due to the fact that they are regularly watching it and copying what they see. A quarter of eleven-year-olds questioned had already seen online porn, with that figure rising to around fifty per cent for those aged sixteen.
Many of those queried said they did not actively seek out online porn but came across it by mistake. And a third of boys aged between thirteen and fourteen said that they wanted to copy what they had seen online.
Many people believe that there need to be more restrictions on the content available online, particularly explicit material. One thousand children were surveyed by the NSPCC, Middlesex University, and the Children’s Commissioner, and the results are likely to shock.
According to Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner, “Many children and young people who view pornography are disturbed by it. It is worrying that millions are viewing it, whether they’re stumbling on it by accident or actively searching for it.”
A Sky News report found that many fourteen to fifteen-year-olds are worried about the amount of online porn they encounter on social media sites such as Snapchat and Instagram. Kieran, who is 15, said that ‘things come up on Twitter like porn websites that you might accidentally click on’. He added, “People who are 10 and 11 – they don’t know what it is, and they click on it.”
Charlotte, also 15, said that porn stars are ‘pretty much perfect people’ and stated that it makes young girls feel insecure. She added that online porn gives people their age an unreal expectation of what sex is actually like.
Banning Online Porn
While some believe that there should be an outright ban on online porn, psychotherapist Paul Hall does not agree. He said, “I don’t think it is possible to ban pornography, that is just not realistic at all. Putting blockers in place, trying to restrict access to young people and vulnerable people obviously makes sense, but I think we’d be naive as a society to think that would stop young people from accessing it.”
Untreated pornography addictions have been linked to a number of violent crimes, with one senior barrister, Mark Fenhalls QC, saying that ‘desensitisation to porn was normalising violence and abuse’. Mr Fenhalls said, “The level of sexual assaults feels like it is increasing. People think that the kind of things children are doing to each other are more serious than they used to be.”
He added that this could be because children now have unregulated access to this type of behaviour on their smartphones. He said, “They think it’s normal as a consequence.”
According to Anastasia de Waal, who chairs the Family Lives’ Teen Boundaries programme, porn seems to be filling the gap in terms of sex education for children. She said, “The reality is that we could end up pushing young people towards porn because we’re not equipping them with the reality of sex education. Young people are not able to find the information they need, and are seeking it out elsewhere.”
She believes children need more education about sex and healthy relationships in order to protect them from the damaging effects of pornography.
Those who have been exposed to pornography from an early age come to view it as normal, and the more they view it, the higher the chance of addiction. Those who continue to watch porn again and again will soon become tolerant to its effects. They will no longer find what they are watching satisfying and may begin to seek out more explicit material. This is when they have become addicted. They will neglect other areas of their life and may spend hours at a time watching porn online.
A pornography addiction can affect a person’s quality of life and might prevent them from enjoying things that they previously took pleasure in. They may stop spending time with family members and friends, and their work performance could be affected. Some people with pornography addictions suffer job losses, financial hardship and marriage breakdowns. It is, therefore, necessary that those with this type of addiction recognise the problem and get help as soon as possible.
If you or a loved one is affected by pornography addiction, contact us here at Addiction Helper today.