I’ve just submitted my post for #Congregation2014.  You can check it out here on congregation.ie.

The generation aged 18-24 have had more exposure to porn than any other generation in human history.  Most of them started viewing porn aged around 13-15.  Porn is a neural issue, not a moral one, and it is beginning to emerge as a societal one.

  • Compulsive pornography users are unable to have sex in the real world.
  • Women are made to feel inadequate; makes them believe that they have to behave in a certain way in order to be attractive.
  • A whole generation is growing up with very misguided beliefs about what sex is really like.

We have to do something about it.

But who’s going to start the conversation? What better place than Congregation?

The Science Bit:

Porn triggers the release of dopamine in the brain, so the more often you watch it and get that dopamine hit, the more tolerance your brain has to it. Your brain needs new and more exciting images and this forces the need for increased stimulation for the same amount of dopamine. They also leads to harder, weirder porn, all of which is freely available within one click.

I have a particular research interest in how teens use social media.  From that has sprung a desire to help parents to talk to their tweens and teens about social media. This whole area of porn and indeed, the pornification of society, is one that fascinates me.  I feel sorry for this first generation who are suffering the effects of porn.

We need to start conversations to help the young ones coming through.  I can’t see this hitting the Department of Education agenda soon.  Look at the reaction to Junior Cert changes… can you imagine the revolt amongst teachers if they are asked to talk about porn?

So I thought what better place to start the conversation and to brain storm some ideas for change than #Congregration2014?

I will be really looking forward to sharing some of my research findings with you and to opening the floor to a conversation that could seriously impact on young people’s lives.

Research released by the UK think-tank IPPR found that eight out of ten 18-year-olds think it’s too easy to accidentally view explicit images while surfing the internet.  Two thirds of young women and almost half of young men agree that “it would be easier growing up if pornography was less easy to access for young people”.

Even the kids are asking for our help.

Here’s an update on how the talk went at #Cong14:

I am very grateful to Eoin Kennedy for making it happen, and to everyone who attended for being their brilliant selves! My only complaint is that I didn’t get to be in EVERY huddle – they were so good, so stimulating.  Speaking of stimulating, here is an update on what came out of the conversations about porn and some actions:

General Thoughts Contributed In The Huddles

Sorry I didn’t note who said what, I can’t attribute the thought to the person here.

  • We all need to talk about sex more.  But if we are to bring this serious issue about porn addiction to the fore, we need to engage Parents and Teens.
    • Young people passing the positive message to each other
  • Porn is a taboo subject in our culture, just like suicide was. But suicide is becoming more acceptable. Looks to how this has happened and follow the same route.
  • Porn delivers a dopamine hit to the brain.  Look at how to make it anti-dopamine.

Obstacles

  • The massive scale of the porn industry, and how we tend to believe things we see in video.
    • The fact that people are making $200,000 a month out of this and they will want to protect that income.
    • The fact that many third level students are funding their education through private camera sessions.
  • The sexualisation of society, desensitisation of the issue and depersonalisation of the self which normalises behaviour that parents couldn’t imagine. (Those impressive words are not mine – were from Bernie Goldbach/Marie Boran/Dermot Casey)
  • Snapchat’s new monetisation tool, Snapcash – how it could potentially create a whole generation of amateur porn stars

A great question:

Does porn for young males screw them up in the same way as fashion does for young females?

Actions:

  • Engage with leading academics and respected people in the area and get them on board.
  • Possibly have a symposium of youth and parenting groups to seek ideas on how to tackle?
  • Approach PhD candidates who are interested in sexualisation but who are looking for a subject.
  • Seek funding for a website with resources for parents and young people that they can use.  Look at how positive options site delivers their message.  Include a forum for people with porn addiction to be heard and get support.  Look at how bullying forums work.
  • Understand how Google and Microsoft could play a role, in that they already assist Gardai with child porn
  • Talk to Brigid Teevan – sex educator.  Interviewed here.

I’m going to put some of the key stats, thoughts, and general stuck in my brain points onto a slidedeck and will share with interested people to get the conversation started. That’s tomorrow’s job (Monday)

In the meantime, have a read of this – a good article that says it like it is: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/how-online-sex-can-lead-to-in-real-life-sexual-dysfunction-wcz/  (thanks to Bernie @topgold for sharing).

Image credit:Sergey Galyonkin on Flickr