Curiosity to know more about one’s sexuality is a healthy sign of development among teens. But when such inquisitiveness begins to push them into inappropriate behavior, such as watching porn continuously for hours or sometimes, even a day or the craving to watch porn interfering with their normal day-to-day activities, it is clearly a sign of pornography addiction.
Pornography addiction, generally known as porn addiction, is a behavioral disorder characterized by an individual’s ever-growing desire to view sexually explicit content in the form of images and videos. Though the addiction has not been enlisted in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the condition is massively affecting U.S. teenagers.
According to the Covenant Eyes, nine out of 10 boys are exposed to pornography before they attain the age of 18 years. The first exposure to porn, on an average, is at about 12 years of age.
Teens generally do not view porn to get sexual pleasure. Instead, it is actually looked at as a way to escape from stress, emotional discomfort, psychological issues like depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and unresolved trauma such as abuse or neglect.
In simple terms, addiction to porn is not an outcome of an individual’s interest in its content but to suppress his/her feelings. This is because pornography leads to a release of the neurotransmitter dopamine along with a number of other biochemicals such as oxytocin, adrenaline, serotonin and endorphins, which, in turn, makes a person experience pleasure, while suppressing stress.
While the situation was quite different a few years back, the technological advancements have made sexually explicit content easily available to teenagers, today. A study done in the past revealed that approximately 88 percent of youth aged between 12 and 14 years used the internet. Such a high percentage of youngsters using the internet along with the easy availability of pornographic content has made pornography a mainstream source of entertainment among the teens.
Symptoms of porn addiction
Porn addiction can be easily identified. A few common symptoms are:
- Changed behavior, mood or sleep pattern
- Hiding one’s internet activity
- Long hours spent watching sexual content
- Declining academic or work performance
- Ignoring daily work in order to watch porn
- Seeking pornography when feeling stressed, anxious or angry
- Feeling irritated when asked about internet use
- Failed efforts to limit the use of pornography
- Feeling of excitement before and during use
- Loss of interest in non-porn activities
- Constantly asking for money
Porn addiction and its effects on teenagers
Addiction in any form is dangerous as it can negatively impact an individual’s life. Porn addiction is no different. It can take over an individual’s life interfering with their daily tasks and changing their priorities. For instance, a teen addicted to porn is more likely to spend his time watching porn instead of studying for exams or going out to play.
Relationships are also at risk due to porn addiction since a teen tends to ignore his relationships with his family, parents, siblings and friends when addicted to porn. He might also indulge in inappropriate activities, looking to earn a quick buck so that he can pay for subscription fees to watch sex images and videos online.
Another study states that teens’ developing brains increases their risk of developing an addiction. Early exposure to sexual encounters can make teens withdraw socially, indulge in high-risk behavior and get depressed. These conditions may be long-term and may even go on to affect the next generation.
An Italian study found that men who had started accessing online porn as early as 14 years of age reported a steady drop in libido that resulted in eventual erectile dysfunction. These men also showed great interest in the most violent types of sexual imageries and fantasies.
Watching porn excessively can also lead to sexual dysfunction in teenagers. This is because watching porn on the internet sensitizes the brain, which, in turn, makes it difficult for the brain to react in a healthy way to normal sexual stimulation. They also tend to feel indifferent towards their sexual partners, have an unrealistic attitude to sex and view increasingly violent sexual content, among others.
Treatment for porn addiction
Like any other addiction, treating porn addiction is possible. This can be done by seeking help from a mental health expert who can understand the exact cause behind the condition and then, help the teen avoid any sort of triggers or temptations. A teenager should be made to limit his access to the internet and allowed to use it only to seek information related to school work.
Parents also need to get extra cautious. To begin with, they need to have an open communication with their teens and make sure that they are imparted the right information about sex. Limiting the teenager’s screen time and helping them understand the need to refrain from sharing sexually explicit content with their friends is also important.
In case the teenager has become severely addicted, opting for some teen-focused support groups, family therapy, counseling sessions or therapeutic boarding schools can prove beneficial for him.
Seeking professional help
White River Academy is one of the leading therapeutic boarding schools that assist teenage boys, majorly in the age group of 12 and 17 years, to overcome their addiction to substances to begin leading a healthy life.
If you or someone you know is dealing with any form of addiction and is looking for boarding schools for troubled teens, the White River Academy can help. Call our 24/7 helpline number or chat online with our experts to know about the best boarding schools for troubled youth in your vicinity.