Video Game and Porn Addiction Are Frying Male Minds

Video Game and Porn Addiction Are Frying Male Minds

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This post was originally published on June 3, 2015.

There seems to be a sort of epidemic among young males. Ask any woman who’s dated a guy born after 1978 and she’ll tell you many of them don’t know how to ask a gal out, they don’t care about relationships and some of them can’t even get it up as fast as guys in their 40s or 50s.

At least according to one researcher, one of the key causes of this social and sexual malfunction in young men is video game and porn addiction.

Joy Sticks

Phillip Zimbardo, a psychologist and professor emeritus at Stanford University, is the author of Man (Dis)Connected, which examines the lives of 20,000 young men and their obsession with getting off in front of the computer and getting glued to Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty.

“Our focus is on young men who play video games to excess, and do it in social isolation—they are alone in their room,” Zimbardo said in an interview with the BBC. “Now, with freely available pornography, which is unique in history, they are combining playing video games and, as a break, watching on average two hours of pornography a week.”

Zimbardo thinks addiction to video gaming, porn and the Internet has become an actual crisis for young men, stunting social development and academic success. It makes sense. To these guys, the real world is hostile and foreign, and it’s too big a risk to go out and talk to girls or try to get in their pants. It’s far safer to just get off to porn.

“When I’m in class, I’ll wish I was playing World of Warcraft. When I’m with a girl, I’ll wish I was watching pornography, because I’ll never get rejected,” one kid told Zimbardo.

The big problem, according to the professor, is that these addictions are literally damaging male brains.

“It begins to change brain function. It begins to change the reward center of the brain, and produces a kind of excitement and addiction,” he explains.”What I’m saying is—boys’ brains are becoming digitally rewired.”

Can’t Get No Erection

Zimbardo believes porn really does make it harder for guys to get it up. Or put another way, staring at things like Anal Assault 1, 2 and 3 over and over again leads to “porn-induced erectile dysfunction.”

“Young boys who should be virile are now having a problem getting an erection,” he says. “You have this paradox—they’re watching exciting videos that should be turning them on, and they can’t get turned on.”

Though this is bad news for males, it’s arguably worse news for females who wind up in bed with a guy who can’t get it hard enough to do the nasty. It makes both parties feel shitty about themselves.

Keeping Your Kid Off Viagra

So what’s the solution? After all, it’s not just the boys’ fault—the gaming and porn industries shove their products in our faces, giving us 24/7 access in the privacy of our own bedrooms. Even alcohol isn’t that easy to score.

Zimbardo thinks one of the main solutions is to educate parents, making them aware that when their teenage son has locked himself in his room for hours at a time, he may have a problem. Maybe another good idea is to dump the kid in some sort of constructive extracurricular activity, even if it’s getting him a drum set or electric guitar. Sure, it’ll be obnoxious to listen to, but it’s a small price to pay to keep your kid from needing Viagra at 24.

And entities outside the family can also help. Schools can educate boys not only on safe sex but also on intimacy, emotions and how to form healthy romantic relationships.

If they add a little bit about how to open doors, pay for dinner and wear a suit, every woman on the planet will be thrilled.

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About Author

Tracy Chabala is a freelance writer for many publications including the LA Times, LA Weekly, Smashd, VICE and Salon. She writes mostly about food, technology and culture, in addition to addiction and mental health. She holds a Masters in Professional Writing from USC and is finishing up her novel.