Addiction to ‘virtual reality porn’ distorting young minds

Wed, 13 May 2015

Young men are becoming increasingly addicted to pornography leading to an improper view of real relationships, a leading psychologist has said.

Philip Zimbardo, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, described this new form of addiction as a “crisis”.

He attributed the behaviour in part to the growing absence of fathers as male role models in the home.

Role of fathers

In an interview with The Guardian, Prof Zimbardo was asked about the role of fathers.

He replied that mothers and fathers give different kinds of love and everybody needs a mother and a father.

The psychologist explained that a child’s behaviour is partly motivated by a desire for their father to love and admire them.

He warned that without a father figure in the home, that “central source of extrinsic motivation is gone”.

Addiction

Prof Zimbardo said that boys, “increasingly have no father figures to motivate them” and “don’t have the skills to form real romantic relationships”.

As a result, they become withdrawn and risk becoming addicted to video games and pornography.

The professor cautioned that pornography is increasingly and disastrously a boy’s introduction to sex. He said: “It’s such a bad introduction because it eliminates romance and love”.

He added that frequent exposure to pornography means it “becomes the social norm. Every boy believes this is what women want, what girls want”.

’Gratification’

According to Zimbardo, viewing pornography and excessively playing video games means that boys don’t learn basic social communication skills.

He told The Sunday Times: “Young men when they are playing games or watching internet porn are trapped in a present hedonistic time zone. Gaming and porn keep them there in a constant loop of instant gratification.”

He said: “Porn removes the physical, emotional, social, sensory reality of sex”.

’Horrified’

Prof Zimbardo’s remarks follow his in-depth study of the lives of 20,000 young men and their use of video games and pornography.

Earlier this month, an NHS psychiatrist warned that teenagers who watch pornography may struggle to recognise that it does not portray normal sexual behaviour.

Writing for the Daily Mail, Dr Max Pemberton said that he was “horrified” and “worried” by what teenagers are looking at online.

He said: “Never mind the moral arguments about porn, there is a sound neurological reason to do everything we can to limit teenagers’ exposure to it.”