Pornography has always held a fascination for teenagers, particularly young men. But the increased exposure thanks to internet access and modern technology is putting them at increasing risk of damaging their ability to form healthy relationships, and even of becoming addicted to pornography. The risk is not solely to young men, however, as girls are also increasingly accessing pornography site; pornography addiction is real.
Increased Risk of Porn Addiction
In teenagers, the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine, responsible for controlling the pleasure and reward centres of the brain and the process of forming neural connections within the brain itself, are at a high level. This combination means that teenagers are more vulnerable to addiction.
At a stage in life when hormone levels are changing and puberty is ongoing, teenagers are naturally very curious about sex. The increased exposure to sex and sexualisation within the media means that this curiosity is appearing at a much younger age than in previous generations. With many parents and teachers often being reluctant to discuss sex, the easy access to pornography on the internet means that many teenagers will use this as their primary source of information.
A recent study found the ten percent of twelve-to-thirteen-year-old Scottish children were concerned they might have an addiction to pornography.
Distorted View of Relationships
Edinburgh-based charity The Reward Foundation, set up by lawyer Mary Sharpe to provide easily accessible information on sex, relationships and pornography for young people and their carers, published a paper in 2016 suggesting that the use of internet pornography could cause difficulties with sex, even in healthy users. Too much time spent alone in front of a computer screen can cause damage to both mental and physical health, and for most people, it can become compulsive behaviour.
Too much viewing of pornography has a negative impact on sexual relationships; after long-term viewing of the manufactured people ‘starring’ in pornography, a real-life partner doesn’t appear as good. The viewing of pornography actually causes changes in the brain of the viewer. Pornography also creates a distorted view of what a normal sexual relationship is like, particularly for young people who are just beginning to explore the idea of sex. The scenarios enacted in even the ‘softest’ types of pornography bear little resemblance to how sexual intercourse would be in a healthy relationship.
Worse than this, once addicted to pornography, increasingly extreme material is viewed in order to get the same ‘hit’ of arousal. This can lead to viewing material involving rough sex, sexual aggression, portrayals of rape, and worse.
Links to Sexual Assault
As previously mentioned, repeated viewing of pornography can influence the viewer’s perception of what a sexual relationship can look like. This is true for adults, and even more so for young people with little or no experience of sex. It seems very likely that the increased availability of pornography on the internet can be linked to increases in sexual assault, ‘revenge porn’ (sharing sexually explicit images of another person without their consent) and sexual abuse among children. There have been reports of children as young as eleven sexually assaulting younger children.
In Scotland, sex crime currently accounts for around 80% of cases in the High Court, the highest it has ever been. Violence and sexual violence are also becoming more common in the relationships of young people. The Reward Foundation hears from many girls who feel that they are being forced into enacting things they have seen in pornography and coerced into sharing sexually explicit images of themselves. Once shared, those pictures end up online, and the cycle continues.
Working to Improve with Education
With so much pornography freely available online, this situation is difficult to manage. Regulation of such an enormous industry is very difficult indeed.
The Reward Foundation feel that the best way of tackling the issue is through education. Working with schools, they are delivering material to teach young people the difference between pornography and ‘real’ sex. They have also started to develop resources that could be used in all schools – as many schools do not feel they are properly equipped to tackle this issue. The next step for the charity is to look at educating parents, and providing them with the tools to be able to openly discuss these issues with their kids. This is obviously a very sensitive area, but progress is being made.
Help with Pornography Addiction
Obviously, it is not only young people that struggle with addiction to pornography. It can affect anyone, from any background. If you think that you might be, or be becoming, addicted to pornography, then Addiction Helper can assist you in finding the right help and support for you to overcome your addiction. Please contact us today for more information.
Source: Tackling the taboo of web porn: charity on a mission to talk to teens and parents (Positively Scottish)