Sunday, April 7, 2013

Excerpt from the Preface to the first clinical workbook for teen cyber porn addicts by Christopher Mulligan


This workbook is written for teens (13 to 18) that have developed an addiction to cyber pornography. Although the psychiatric community has yet to recognize addiction to cyber pornography as representing a distinct or formal diagnostic category, it is evident to mental health professionals that there are teens that have developed a relationship to cyber pornography that is similar, if not identical to, adult cyber porn addiction.

Because teens typically believe they need to conceal their cyber pornography consumption due to fear of punishment from their parents/caregivers and other adults, it is very difficult to establish the prevalence of cyber porn addiction in teens. Teens are very reluctant to discuss their use of cyber porn with anyone, much less agree to engage in a formal study where they would openly discuss their porn consumption. 

Additionally, due to the fact that teens are minors, there are obvious legal and ethical barriers to conducting research on adolescent exposure to cyber pornography.
With this said, there is ample research on adult online sexual behavior, including cyber pornography. For example, 12% of the websites on the Internet are pornographic, which represents approximately 24.5 million websites in all.

In anonymous surveys, 10% of adult males who view cyber pornography self-identify as cyber porn addicts and 20% acknowledge accessing pornography at work. In a study of 800 college students from six different college campuses in the United States, 20% of the students acknowledged viewing pornography every day.

Research has established that 43% of all Internet users view porn with 35 to 44-year-old males being the largest consumers of. Statistics also show approximately 40,000,000 Americans are regular visitors to porn sites and that 70% of men age 18 to 24 visit porn weekly. It has also been established that 25% of all search engine requests are pornography related -- which amounts to approximately 68 million requests per day. Research has also established that approximately 30% of all Internet downloads are pornographic.

Research on cyber porn consumption has established that 34% of Internet users have experienced unwanted exposure to pornography, either through pop-up ads, misdirected links, or e-mails. Sadly, the average age at which a child first sees pornography is 11 years old and 75%  of children and teens remember their first exposure as negative.100,000 websites are devoted strictly to child pornography and the United States is the top producer of pornographic webpages -- almost 250,000,000 pages or 89% of the worldwide market. We know that sex is the number one topic for Internet searches and that 70% of Internet traffic occurs during the 9 to 5 workday or the period of time children are in school.

Given what is known about adult use of cyber pornography, particularly research that is focused on problematic use or addiction, there is no reason to believe that teens -- with equal access and exposure to cyber pornography -- would have fewer problems regulating their online sexual behavior. On the contrary, due to the normal challenges related to teen sexual development -- particularly the process whereby teen’s learn to manage their sexual drives and desires to experience safety, intimacy, and pleasure -- there is every reason to believe that teens are addicted to cyber pornography at a rate similar to, if not in excess of, adults.

As is the case with adults, teens I have worked with report developing a preoccupation with cyber pornography within 3 to 5 exposures. Teens have also told me that once exposed to cyber pornography, they quickly 1) were unable to control their online sexual behavior; 2)experienced a persistent desire to be online searching for porn; 3) developed tolerance;  4) experienced withdrawal symptoms, and; 5) experienced negative consequences such as social isolation, withdrawal from physical activities, ignoring family relationships, and ignoring school related responsibilities.

Additionally, as research has established with adult cybersex and cyber porn addicts, it is the perspective of this workbook that teens participate in online sexual behavior, particularly pornography, to cope with painful emotional states related to complex off-line problems (e.g., loneliness, rejection by peers of the opposite sex, chronic depression, chronic social anxiety, attention deficit problems, and social communication deficits/autism spectrum disorder).

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