Does Watching Porn at a Young Age Increase Your Chances of Sex Addiction?

As famous cases such as Terry Crews and Josh Duggar prove, sex and porn addiction can have harrowing effects on a person’s life. We take an in-depth look at these addictions and their increased risk for those who are exposed to pornography at a young age.

Does Watching Porn at a Young Age Increase Your Chances of Sex Addiction?

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  • From actor Terry Crews to Reality Star Josh Duggar, famous cases show that sex addiction often begins in childhood.
  • An in-depth look at the causes of sex addiction, which may begin in childhood.

Young people’s exposure to pornography has reached an all-time high and researchers are just beginning to study the negative consequences. Early sex, high-risk sex, sex addiction and sexual violence are among the serious concerns related to porn addiction.

Young People Have Easier Access to Pornographic Material than Ever Before

The Internet offers an ease of access to pornographic material like never before, and the range of uncensored sexual material available is astounding. One study found that 42% of youth aged 10-17 had been exposed to internet porn in the past year. Of that group, 66% reported their exposure to porn was unintentional. In another study, 41% of parents surveyed reported their children had been exposed to porn. And while those numbers are already quite high, shame and guilt surrounding viewing porn (either intentionally or accidentally) mean these reports are likely an underestimate.

Not only are more young people viewing pornographic material, but the images of mainstream porn have become more violent and explicit. One analysis found that 88% of popular pornographic videos contained physical aggression including spanking, gagging, choking, kicking, and hair pulling.

Furthermore, researchers who set out to study sexting among young people uncovered an unexpected turn in their research. The research exposed how participants’ exposure to porn was related to sexting behaviour and young men’s sexual expectations — as well as young women’s pressure to conform to what is seen.

Taken together, the current research suggests that more and more young people are exposed to a large amount of violent porn and explicit images, whether they want to be or not. What implications does this have for the development of today’s youth?

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The Connection Between Watching Porn and Sex Addiction in Young People

Of course, not every teen who watches porn will experience negative effects like sex addiction, just as not all people who drink beer will develop alcoholism. However, there are certainly risks involved. Research has repeatedly shown that the younger children are when they begin experimenting with alcohol and drugs, the higher their risk is for developing a drug addiction. It is possible that as more and more research takes place surrounding sex addiction, the same pattern will be found — early exposure to sex and porn may increase the likelihood of developing an addiction to sex.

One young man named Justin describes his struggles with porn addiction in an attempt to raise awareness of the dangers and addictive nature of internet porn sites. At age 11, he came across his first porn site while watching YouTube videos about remote control cars. The now-18-year-old reports that from that time he kept seeking out similar sites until it became a compulsion that he sought to control through inpatient sex addiction treatment.

Other young people are crippled with shame and fear surrounding their internet sex addiction, which like drug and alcohol addictions, interferes with their ability to function normally.

What is Sex Addiction and How Does it Develop?

Sex addiction is a process addiction that involves compulsively thinking about and seeking out sex. Like other addictions, sex addiction has multiple negative consequences in all areas of the addict’s life. Some characteristics of sex addiction include:

Loss of Control

Like the young addict in the story above who describes just “clicking and clicking” with no control, sexual addiction involves compulsively acting out on sexual fantasies despite negative consequences or knowing it is ‘wrong’.

Preoccupation

As addiction develops, people spend more and more time thinking about and obsessing over their next ‘fix’. In the case of sex addiction, this means constantly thinking about their next sexual encounter (whether it be an actual act of sex, masturbation, watching porn, or acting out in other sexual manners) and how they will get it.

Strained Relationships

Sex addiction will most definitely have an impact on relationships. Conflict with spouses and employers about certain behaviours is common, and can eventually lead to losses including job loss and divorce.

Withdrawal

Withdrawal occurs when the behaviour is stopped. This includes experiencing irritability and distress when access to sex and porn are cut off.

Failed Efforts to Stop

Like substance addictions, when efforts to stop on their own consistently meet with failure, it is a sign that dependence has developed. If the sex addict tries to control their sexual thoughts and impulses without success, sex addiction treatment may be necessary.

Porn Addiction: A Subtype of Sex Addiction

Partaking in cybersex and compulsively watching internet porn comprise the most common subtype of sex addiction, which overlaps with internet addiction. In one study of over 900 sex addicts, 90% of men and 77% of women reported that watching porn was a significant factor of their addiction. With porn being so significant in the manifestation of sex addiction, the number of young people being exposed to porn is certainly cause for concern.

The Most Common Signs of Pornography Addiction

Both men and women can become addicted to porn. However, statistics show that men are five times more likely than women to watch porn in the first place. But whether male or female, the signs of porn addiction are essentially the same.

The following is a list of the most common symptoms of porn addiction to watch for:

Increased Amount of Time Spent Watching Porn

Be aware of the amount of time spent watching porn. A couple of times a week for 30 minutes or so is nothing to be concerned about. However, if you are finding that hours or even days are flying by while absorbed in porn, this is a sign that your porn habits are becoming a problem.

Increasingly Bizarre Content

Just as an alcoholic or drug addict builds up tolerance, so does a porn addict. As the person becomes bored with ‘regular’ porn, they will often begin to engage in more extreme fantasies or fetishes. In some cases, the pornographic material is illegal, which is a serious red flag.

Lying About or Hiding Porn Use

Lying is a common trait among all addicts, as they try to keep their addiction out of sight of not only loved ones, but themselves as well. If you find yourself lying to loved ones about the amount of time you spend viewing porn, you may need to seek professional assistance.

Inability to stop despite negative consequences.

There are many negative consequences that can come from watching too much porn, including:

  • Financial troubles (from paying for sites or videos, etc)
  • Relationship problems
  • Declined productivity at work or school

Trying to stop without success, especially repeatedly, is a key indicator of addiction.

Loss of Interest in Sex

In many cases, a porn addict will lose interest in having sex with their partner because their partner is unable or unwilling to duplicate scenes in porn videos. Actor Terry Crews opened up about his porn addiction recently, stating how he began to feel about his wife and others he engaged with sexually: “People become objects. People become body parts. They become things to be used rather than people to be loved.” This altered way of thinking can cause serious issues in a partnership for obvious reasons, but for years sex addiction was left in the shadows, with sex addicts suffering along. It was only recently that the idea of sex addiction became mainstream.

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Porn and Sex Addiction in Hollywood Films

Hollywood films have not infrequently taken the subject of addiction as their theme. We have often seen characters struggle with alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling or another addiction. But a sign of the times is the recent focus of feature films on internet sex addiction.

The most recent film of this nature, Her, was written and directed by Spike Jonze. The film is about an isolated man named Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with a computer operating system, ‘Samantha’ (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). The film takes place in a not-so-distant future where people rarely communicate with other humans, instead interacting primarily with their various computer devices. You’d be forgiven for thinking it sounds a little too much like the world we already live in. The one major difference is that Samantha develops an almost human level of consciousness, being able to even reflect on the relationship she has with users. She evens provides romantic relationships for many of them.

Another film which shows the effects of internet addiction is Shame, a 2011 film by the British director Steve McQueen. The main character, Brandon (Michael Fassbender), is a successful executive whose preoccupation with internet porn causes harm to his social life, family relationships, and even infringes upon his work. The film is an empathic, if at times hard-to-watch, character study of someone struggling with a modern addiction.

Statistics of Internet Pornography and Sex-Related Sites

Although an artificial intelligence capable of sustaining a romantic relationship such as Samantha in Her is not yet a reality, the internet is highly saturated with pornography. As reported in Forbes magazine, 4% of the world’s most popular websites were sex-related. Some estimates place the number of web searches for sex-related content at 13%. Finally, at least 2.5 million websites are blocked by web-filters designed to protect minors.

As some figures show, online sex and pornography addiction is a problem affecting a significant proportion of men. Some statistics show that 25 million Americans view adult sites from one to 10 hours per week, and a further 4.7 million do so more than 11 hours per week. As the issue continues to grow there will likely be more film and other artistic projects focusing on internet sex addiction, but more importantly – more and more people will become affected by this type of process addiction which can seriously damage people’s lives.

Famous Cases of Sex and Porn Addiction

Ten years ago, sex addiction and its variations were not something that was openly talked about. It was in 2009 that pro golfer Tiger Woods was labelled by the press as a sex addict, but because sex addiction was still in the shadows, many people brushed it off as a meagre attempt to shift the blame for his adulterous actions.

Since then, however, much research has been done on the subject, proving that sex addiction is real. And now that the world is clear on the fact that sex addiction is a ‘real’ addiction, there have been some famous cases in the news worth noting.

2015: Reality Star Josh Duggar’s Porn Addiction

Josh Duggar is the eldest child of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar of the American reality TV show 19 Kids and Counting.  In 2015, Duggar made a public admission that he suffered from porn addiction and had been unfaithful to his wife, Anna. This, of course, came soon after it was revealed through a data hack that he held two separate accounts on the dating site Ashley Madison’, which focuses on extramarital affairs.

Just a few weeks earlier, the reality star had made a public apology for his involvement in a molestation accusation, where Duggar was accused of sexually molesting 5 young girls when he was a teenager.

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Was Childhood to Blame for Josh Duggar’s Porn Addiction?

According to clinical psychologist David Ley,Most self-identified sex and porn addicts have little education and understating of their sexuality, and have had no role models teaching them how to act in responsible, self-aware and self-accepting ways when it comes to their sexuality.”

When children are not able to speak or ask about sex freely, they will learn about it in other ways — via the internet, television or friends — and it is not likely to be the most helpful information. Although anything we actually know about Josh Duggar’s particular case of addiction is speculation from the media, some professionals have hinted that this may be part of the issue in Duggar’s case, as he was raised as part of a devout Christian family in which the topic of sex is not typically spoken about freely.

2016: Actor Terry Crews Opens up About his Porn Addiction

Former American football player Terry Crews is probably best known for his acting career – starring in several Blockbuster movies including Bridesmaids and the hit TV show Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Back in 2014, Crews opened up about his pornography addiction on The Wendy Williams Show, after releasing his book Manhood earlier that year.

On the show, he claimed that his porn addiction started at the age of 12, as a result of watching pornography in his grandfather’s basement. Crews also claims that while growing up his father was an alcoholic, and his mother was very religious; watching pornography in the home was definitely taboo. Of course, then, Crews kept his porn obsession quiet, and it has followed him throughout his life.

“Pornography addiction turns into something else,” Crews said. “You can’t have something like that in your life without it growing into something else. Everything grows.”

One of the main effects of any addiction is that, without getting help, the addictive behaviour continues to grow and get worse over time.

Just like someone who has a casual drink after work and eventually cannot get through the day without drinking, Crews began watching porn innocently enough as a curious kid and later found himself watching porn for hours at a time, eventually cheating on his wife of many years.

Both Terry Crews and Josh Duggar’s addiction can be related back to their childhood, which is very common in cases of porn and sex addiction in adults.

Should More be Done to Restrict Teens’ Access to Pornographic Material?

Given the serious consequences of sexual addictions on people’s lives, not to mention other consequences related to early sexual behaviour including increased sexual violence, STDs, and unwanted pregnancies, many are lobbying for stricter controls on the advertising and accessibility of pornographic material.

Parents can help by monitoring internet access and asking questions about what their children have been exposed to via the internet. Talking about safe sex and dispelling misconceptions that children and teens may form based on what they see on the internet and movies can also promote resiliency against developing negative consequences due to sexual activity.

Treatment for Sex and Porn Addiction

Porn addiction can have serious effects on a person’s life and the lives of those around them. In most cases, professional addiction treatment is necessary to overcome it.

The Cabin Chiang Mai is a residential rehab facility that treats all types of addiction including sex and porn addiction.  Our own Recovery Zones treatment programme is designed specifically with process addictions in mind and incorporates Western counselling with Eastern holistic treatments to create a unique and effective addiction treatment method that boasts a 96% completion rate.

If you are concerned about a loved one’s porn or sexual addiction, there is help available. Contact us today to find out more and get the help you and your family deserve.