Porn Addiction in Teens: Signs, and Solutions

by cadabamshospital

18 November,2021 | Reading Time: 5 minutes

A guide to identifying and overcoming it

Pornography addiction is more common these days than before due to everything being available at the touch of a screen. And more than adults, it is the teenagers who are suffering from porn addiction. Hormones and curiosity, in combination, can easily tempt our teens to get addicted to porn. They are at a stage of exploring one’s sexuality and dealing with the physical changes in oneself. This coupled with technological savviness and easy access to pornographic materials online, makes teenagers more vulnerable to porn addiction. Sometimes we may catch our teen watching porn and brush away this behavior by blaming it all on the raging hormones. Though most times, this may not be worrying, however, it helps to tune ourselves to the fact that porn addiction is a real threat and is happening to more teenagers these days than we can imagine. There is hope for those teens who are addicted to porn and with the right guidance, they can overcome it.

Porn Addiction: Its effect and consequences

Porn addiction in teens is known to cause lasting psychological damage. The fantasy world of porn can easily alter their understanding of love, sex, and intimacy which in turn affects their relationships when they become adults. The following are some of the negative effects of porn addiction:

  • A distorted image of sexuality
  • Problems in relationships
  • Social withdrawal and loneliness
  • Depression is caused by guilt and shame
  • Preoccupation with sexual thoughts affects the ability to focus on tasks
  • Increase in impulsive and aggressive behaviors

Signs of Porn addiction in teens

To help our teens develop healthy relationships as adults, we need to be watchful of their moods, behaviors and also understand the nature of their online activities. Here are a few signs you can look out for:

Mood changes: Teens may appear depressed which is usually the result of the shame and guilt caused by hiding their obsessiveness towards pornography. There is a loss of interest or motivation to do things they previously enjoyed doing. This in turn makes them want to watch more porn as they tend to need more of the dopamine rush and the feelings of pleasure it results in. You may notice them be more irritable and angrier than usual.

Behavioral changes: Be alert when you notice an increase in lying and stealing behaviors and if your teen is behaving secretively by spending a long time behind closed doors or by being overprotective of their gadgets. They may quickly change the screen or switch off the gadget when you enter their room. 

Biological changes: As is the case in other addictions, excessive porn viewing is also linked to appetite and sleep disturbances. There may be a loss of appetite or binge eating. Most teenagers tend to sleep late however if it is a recurrent pattern and affecting his/her sleep and everyday routine then it is likely that something is not okay with them.

Pornography addiction or Inappropriate behavior?

The following are the pointers that are indicative of porn addiction: 

Frequency: If the porn-watching behavior occurs multiple times a week rather than a few times over the year.

Duration: If the porn viewing behavior has been present for a long time and the teenager spends a long time engaging in it.

Intensity: If the teenager has been watching intense pornography videos/images which describe sexual activity in detail, much more than watching images of nude pictures.

Risky behaviors: If the teenager has been engaging in unlawful activities, secretive behaviors, abuse, or skipping school. 

How to stop porn addiction?

It can be shocking and troublesome for parents to discover that their teen is addicted to porn. However, steps can be taken to help them overcome it. Here are a few outlined:

Ask for information: If you find your teen watching porn, you can approach the situation calmly and explore how long they have been doing so. Enquire about when they started watching, how much they watch, what they watch, and when did they last watch. Make them comfortable enough to talk to you openly about this issue. For this, it is essential to minimize their shame as guilt feelings can prevent them from talking more about the issue. 

Educate: Talk to your teen about the psychological and physical impact of pornography and how it can distort our perceptions of love and sex. Explain to them how it can make us view others as sexual objects thus affecting our ability to form healthy relationships. Porn addiction has been linked to sexual dysfunctions in adulthood.

Calm communication: Pornography is a secretive behavior, hence ensure that there is an open and respectful conversation with your teen about the issue. We must be sensitive and non-judgmental in our interactions with our teens. Avoid threats and getting angry about the behavior as it will only serve to make teens more defensive. 

Teach stress management: In most situations, addiction occurs as a result of inadequate coping while stressed. It helps to channelize teen energy into healthy pursuits like sports, writing, or art. Teaching them relaxation and mindfulness techniques go a long way in helping them deal with difficult situations and moods.

Limit and monitor technology use: Install internet filters or parental control software that restricts technology use. Discuss with your teen the importance of limiting gadget use. Get them to come up with their schedule for screen use and together plan how to consistently implement it. It helps to come up with a contract for internet use that can outline the sites which are allowed, the duration of time spent in browsing, consequences for breaking rules, and rewards for abiding by the rules. 

Strengthen healthy decision-making skills: This is necessary to reduce impulsivity in teens which can drive them towards addictive behaviors. Help your teen understand the problem, discuss the pros and cons of the issue, together brainstorm the various ways to manage it, and come up with a plan to address porn addiction. It is impossible to shield our teenagers from exploring their sexuality. But by empowering them to make the right decisions and set appropriate boundaries, we can ensure that they develop healthy relationships.

Reach out for professional help: In cases, where the above strategies are not having an impact on excessive porn viewing, it is necessary to reach out to a mental health professional who can help the teen recover from porn addiction. The therapeutic sessions aim to empower the teen to give up their excessive porn use. During these sessions, various techniques based on cognitive behavior therapy, motivational interviewing, and mindfulness are taught and are different approaches to porn addiction therapy. These aim at managing the obsessive thoughts and motivate the teen to exert control over their unhealthy behaviors. 

If you know of any teen requiring help in recovering from porn addiction, you can reach out to our team of experts at Cadabam’s hospital for support. We have both outpatient facilities where the teen can visit one of our experts for psychological therapy as well as in-patient centers where they can undergo treatment for depression and other issues related to porn addiction. The focus of these centers will be on providing customized support and enhancing positive coping behaviors to help the teen reset his/her perceptions towards sexuality. 

Dr. Nisha Vidyasagar

Clinical Psychologist

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