Are you a teen watching porn? How are you feeling?

dont watch porn

One of the largest groups for viewing online pornography is ages 12 to 17 A recent survey by Ofcom found that children are spending more time online, are more likely to go online alone and are using a wider range of devices to access the internet.

Bill walks into his counselling session:

“I’m at the age where a lot of my friends are getting married. But I can’t even get up the courage to date. I’m 26, and I’ve got a good job, but I feel like a total freak. My life is stalled. I’m getting more and more isolated and depressed. I just can’t seem to maintain any sexual interest in girls. Hell, I can’t maintain that much interest in a girl in any way. I can’t get turned on. I can’t get an erection. And I’m getting too paranoid to ask any girl out on a date. What if she tells her friends that I can’t perform?”

It turns out that Bill has been watching Internet porn since he was 13. There was not a lot of love or supervision in his family. His dad drank, and his mum was overwhelmed with the stress of taking care of the kids and being the wife of an alcoholic.

For a long time, he masturbated to the porn. In the last few years, he has found himself just watching the porn for hours on end, just clicking his mouse like a zombie, trying new scene after new scene to get enough of a hit to stay aroused, but not even masturbating. Besides work and eating, all he does is stay glued to the screen.

You may have seen the recent film Don Jon, featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jon, an Internet porn addict whose habit hurts his love life. There are too many Jon’s in counselling — men like Bill.

Internet porn has the potential to change some adolescents’ sexual development in a very damaging way: It can ruin or hinder their ability to form sexual relationships.

Here’s the thing: When sex is good, it’s a wonderful part of life. I would hope that even the most conservative among us would wish that when our children grow up, they could have pleasurable sex with a beloved partner.

But if the current trend with teenagers and porn continues, there is going to be a new generation of adults who lost an important step in their sexual development and who have trouble, as young adults and later in life, integrating emotional attachment and love with sexual expression and sexual pleasure. Masters and Johnson did not call sex “the pleasure bond” for nothing.

Perhaps not surprisingly, boys are much more likely to seek out pornography than girls, and use increases with age, research finds. In the Paediatrics study, for instance, 38% of 16- and 17-year-old male Internet users deliberately visited X-rated sites in the past year, compared with 8% of girls.

So let me give you a brief outline about my understanding of how porn is being used these days by some boys and men. Unlike the olden days, when you looked at magazines like Hustler or Playboy and fantasised, or bought porn DVDs and masturbated to the stories — a thin plot starring a specific cast of characters — today’s free Internet porn is an unlimited, endless series of raw sex acts. There is no plot. It is non-stop penetration and orifices, with a large serving of violence. This is nothing like the porn experience of the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s.

Teens click from image to image, quickly looking for new sexy or shocking pictures. Teen brains are hyper-reactive to stimulation, and they are hyper-plastic. There is a saying, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” That means that just like Pavlov’s dog, teens who watch a lot of Internet porn are learning to associate this kind of insanely high visual stimulation to sexual arousal. There is no way that being with another human being can provide that kind of sexual stimulation.

And notice, it’s all visual stimulation. There is no part of the arousal that is fed by touch, taste or smell.

When young people use porn like this and actually still manage to have sex with another human being, sexual dysfunction is common. How can a boy navigate the give-and-take of real sex when his sexual template has been entirely centered on meeting his own timing and needs?

So here is a short (and incomplete) list of my fears about boys learning about sex from porn and becoming dependent on it emotionally and physically:

  • First and foremost, boys who become obsessed with Internet porn are training their brains to need a kind of stimulation that is unobtainable from a real human being.
  • The images, even when not violent, stress performance and conquest, not pleasure
  •  Most (straight sex) images demean women. Exposure to it can increase acceptance of male domination and female servitude.
  • These giant penises are unrealistic. Make sure teen boys know that porn stars are chosen because of their outsized genitalia. They are not normal.
  • Porn makes it look like men/boys are always ready for sex. Teen boys do not understand that on the movie set, the actors pause quite frequently to get aroused by male or female “fluffers” whose role is to make sure that the guys are always erect.
  •  Women are portrayed falsely, as if intensely aroused by any kind of stimulation, and as if the way to approach a woman is to focus on her genitals.
  • Porn is inevitably bareback porn: it’s always sexual penetration without the use of a condom (in straight porn, that is. Gay porn tends to feature condoms.)
  • Overuse of porn leads to social isolation and is a very destructive self-regulation strategy.

Adolescence is perhaps the most important time in the life cycle for the development of sexuality. Teen boys have always read all the porn they could get their hands on. But at the same time, they had their attractions and their relationships to the real girls and boys they socialized with and spent hours with every day and night. They were learning how to talk to potential girlfriends/boyfriends, how to be friends, how to relate. Learning the pleasures of touch and sexual touch was a big part of the awakening.


The masturbation and the porn were just a part of the recipe, some of the other ingredients were love, touch, trust, self esteem, friendship, and connection.

Let’s not wait for young people to find pornography. Instead, let’s talk about it openly.

If you are looking for more grown-up information on porn, relationships check out Bish or join us on our Twitter page @KIPeducationUK


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