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How Internet pornography is impacting a generation of young men

The emergence of Internet pornography has changed the landscape of sexual development and relationships in a way never-before seen in human history. As a result, countless people are having their sexual tastes shaped by porn producers rather than real, human, experiences. These days, exposure to pornography seems to be a virtual certainty and young men are therefore automatically “opted-in” to potential addiction, relational difficulty, porn-induced erectile dysfunction, and more.

In this video, Alexander Rhodes of NoFap® shares the real experiences of young men who have gotten hooked on porn and the unexpected side effects that they have experience as a result.

The “Out of the Shadows” event was hosted by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (often abbreviated NCOSE), Washington College, and the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking. This press conference took place in Washington, DC on September 7.

For those who would rather read, a transcript of prepared remarks are included below:

How Internet pornography is impacting a generation of young men

My name is Alexander Rhodes. I created and run a website called NoFap®. It is a porn addiction recovery website which offers supporting materials and software to assist people in reaching their individually-elected sexual health goals.

I’m here to share what I’ve discovered from the testimonies of 1000s of people who have felt that pornography had a negative influence on their lives. While tomorrow’s event will be focusing primarily on boys and men, any human being with internet access can get addicted to internet pornography. Directly or indirectly, porn is something that impacts all of us.

Most members of this sexual health website are on it to quit pornography, because they feel that it has had a detrimental effect on their lives and relationships. They believe that through years of pornography consumption, they have essentially wired their sexualities to prefer pixels on screens, rather than people.

Much of our lives revolve around the connections that we form with other people. Our peers, our colleagues, our friendships, our neighbors, our romantic relationships, our families… interpersonal relationships of all types, make up the fabric of society. Our sexualities are at the core of the human experience. Research is revealing that pornography is distancing us from others, socially, platonically, familially, and romantically, revealing problematic effects on all types of relationships. Frayed threads impact the integrity of an entire fabric. So it is prudent to question the impact that pornography is having on individuals, and therefore is surely having on society as a whole.

If you think about it, we are interjecting a new variable for the very first time – internet pornography – into millions of years of human evolution. For many people, using porn is as routine as brushing their teeth. As so many people are using it consistently, it is important to take pause and consider how this might be impacting our lives.

Tooth Brush

For many people, using pornography is a part of their daily routine, similar to brushing their teeth.

Most concerning, children in the United States and much of the developed world are being funneled through an online experience where exposure to pornography is practically mandatory. It is everywhere. A recent study from Australia showed that out of the 258 male participants surveyed, only 1 of them reported that they haven’t been exposed to porn. That’s 99.6% of the males between the ages of 15-29 saying that they have been exposed to porn. In the same survey, they found that the median age of first porn exposure was 13 for males and 16 for females.

Children are learning about sexuality through pornography, often before they’ve even had their first kiss. Heavy porn users, especially those who grew up and went through puberty while using internet porn, are reporting that reliance on pornography can lead to tangible sexual dysfunction, including erectile dysfunction and anorgasmia. [Anorgasmia is the inability to have an orgasm during partnered sex.]

After the emergence of internet pornography, erectile dysfunction rates are at an all-time high. In 1948, before the Internet, a Kinsey report showed less than 1% of men under 30 had erectile dysfunction (or ED for short), and less than 3% of men between 30 to 45 years old. By 2012, a study in Switzerland found a rate of 30% for young men. In 2014, a study on active duty men of our military found an ED rate of 33.24%. Looking at ED is just one indicator of pornography’s harms, although a strong one. Clearly, the effects of porn addiction span beyond dysfunctional genitals, but into the roots of relationships and living the most fulfilling lives possible.

Different studies on porn users are showing associations with sexual dysfunction, brain hypofrontality, desensitization, sensitization to porn cues, increased stress, less motivation, relationship problems, decreased sexual satisfaction, and other life-altering detriments.

This isn’t a partisan issue – there are people all over the political spectrum who are skeptical of pornography. This isn’t just a religious issue – there are dozens of secular websites and organizations, alongside of the religious ones, that are addressing porn addiction. This is simply a human issue.

Pornography is not a partisan issue. Porn skeptics come from all over the political spectrum. Some porn skeptics are apolitical.

Furthermore, being skeptical of pornography is not the same thing as being sex negative – there’s a huge difference between pornography and sex. In porn, the viewer is a voyeur, rather than a participant. It is on a screen. It is available in virtually endless amounts and pirated all over porn tube sites without monetary cost. It is always accessible, just a tap or click away. To our brain’s reward system, this can be an especially enticing quick and repeatable path to an orgasm, compared to partnered sex. In fact, many people who are quitting porn are doing so in the pursuit of better sex. Quitting porn is sex positive.

This doesn’t need to be an argument about morality, you can simply look at the science and overwhelming anecdotal evidence. There are already dozens of neurological studies proving the existence of porn addiction, and many more proving that porn can lead to undesired side effects.. And you don’t need to have a PhD to know if you are an otherwise healthy 19 year old who somehow has erectile dysfunction, who regains full function after eliminating porn use. There are 1000s of people online reporting symptoms from consuming internet pornography, which promptly are reduced or reversed after they stop using it. And they need to be taken seriously.

To date, there are over 35 neurological studies on users of pornography which are all consistent with the addiction model. And dozens more showing negative effects from consumptions. Although plenty of research exists on the subject, I encourage researchers to continue to pursue knowledge in this field.

I am not here to endorse or allude to any legislative action. I am taking a brief break from my work and am going to be here in Washington DC over the next day, to simply spread awareness that pornography is not as wonderful as some people make it out to be.

Families need to educate their children about pornography – and they need to do so before the porn producers do, since right now minors are getting hooked on porn long before they are made aware of the potential negative effects.

A father and his child.

Families need to teach their children about pornography before the porn producers have a chance to.

Treatment for porn related side effects is simple and involves removing just one thing from your life – using porn. We simply want people to ask themselves the question, how is porn impacting my life and relationships? And if they do not know how porn is impacting them, they can simply take a quick break, changing one variable in a self experiment, to see what impact it might have on their lives and their relationships.

Already, 1000s have made the personal decision to leave porn in the past, and have gone on to live more fulfilling lives with improved interpersonal relationships. It’s time we think about and openly discuss our heavy usage of pornography. In the meantime, more and more people around the world will continue to declare their autonomy and reclaim their sexualities from the porn production companies.

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