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Videogames and Porn causing a 'Crisis amongst young men'

If playing some video games and watching porn sounds like a thrilling weekend plan, you might have a problem. According to psychologist Phillip Zimbardo, young men’s brains are being “digitally rewired”, creating a new form of addiction through the excessive use of pornography and video games.

Is watching porn and playing video games related amongst young male gamers? Can playing cooperative games be the answer to decrease possible porn addiction?

The relation between video games and porn addiction

Phillip Zimbardo’s latest study is showing some interesting results. It is an in-depth look into the effects of video games and pornography with a sample size of 20,000 young people, of which 75% are male. In an interview on the BBC World Service weekend program, Zimbardo spoke about the results of the study:

Our focus is on young men who play video games to excess, and do it in social isolation - they are alone in their room.

And 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." – Source

When asked what Zimbardo considers “to excess”, he noted that they consider anything above seven hours a day “to excess”. As an individual with a degree in psychology, I can safely say that social isolation can cause a wealth of problems and lead to addiction, especially if a person already suffers from Addictive Personality Disorder.

Freely available pornography fills the internet; no one can argue that fact. What effect does it have on a gamer? Any type of addiction can lead to a decrease in pro-social behavior. It doesn’t matter what a person is addicted too, addiction is never a good thing.

Zimbardo notes that there is a “crisis amongst young men”, who are experiencing a “new form of addiction” via excessive use of video games and pornography. He continues by stating that: “It begins to change brain function. It begins to change the reward centre of the brain, and produces a kind of excitement and addiction. "What I'm saying is, boys' brains are becoming digitally rewired." - Source

Phillip Zimbardo is a world renowned psychologist, famous for the Stanford prison experiment in 1971, where students took on the roles of guards and prisoners. He is a respected member of the field of psychology, noting that the issue can lead to porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED): “Young boys who should be virile are now having a problem getting an erection.

The connection between watching pornography and erectile dysfunction is a disputed issue, for example an article from Psychology Today, shows no scientific links between the use of porn and erectile dysfunction.

In the video below, Phillip Zimbardo talks about the problems facing young men with regards to their academic achievement and social development, citing excessive use of pornography, video games and the internet as the main culprits.

An example of the mindset of a young male addicted to pornography: “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." - Source

Gaming addiction can lead to antisocial behavior, for example World of Warcraft players were jailed for child neglect last year. If social isolation while playing videogames leads to pornography addiction or vice versa, what could help lighten the load on young male gamers?

Thankfully, gaming could be the answer to the pressing issue! Instead of leaving gaming behind, playing with friends can actually increase pro-social behavior.

Increasing pro-social behavior via cooperative games

Players can give each other a “helping hand” by teaming up for some cooperative gameplay experiences. Not only will it help someone stay away from pornography (you probably won’t watch porn at a LAN), but a new study has found that cooperative games increase pro-social behavior. Two or more people working together toward a common goal and benefit could be the key in decreasing anti-social behavior caused by gaming and porn addiction.

Assistant professor of journalism and electronic media at Texas Tech University, John Velez, conducted a study which shows a positive relation between playing cooperative video games and an increase in pro-social behavior; in both violent and non-violent video games.

 “I did this study to figure out in general why cooperative play was so powerful in creating that positive effect.  That expectation (of reciprocation) is very powerful in determining pro-social behavior but it also seems that playing with a helpful teammate can inspire players to behave pro-socially without the expectation of receiving anything in return.” - Source

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The relation between porn and gaming addiction, according to Phillip Zimbardo, is due to the social isolation of playing video games alone in your room. Therefore, increasing pro-social behavior via cooperative play could be the answer to decreasing porn addiction brought on by the apparent “isolation” due to playing video games.

Do you think there is a relation between video game and porn addiction? Do you prefer to game alone or with friends? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

Sources: Texas Tech University, BBC, Independent

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