Porn addiction: What impact does it have on children, youth and adults?

A school teacher claims that the tendency to surf porn sites is seen to be more among boys, especially those studying in Classes XI and XII.

Published: 08th July 2018 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th July 2018 01:19 PM   |  A+A-

Image of a laptop used for representational purpose only.

By Express News Service

In times past, pornography was accessed through books and bit movies shown in theatres or available on CDs and VCDs. But now the Internet has taken the lives of people by storm. Thanks to the ubiquitous mobile phone, anybody, from a teenager to a senior citizen can access porn free of charge.

Take the case of Sarath. He was 14 when he was shown porn for the first time by his aunt. Then he ended up having sex with the 44-year-old. Now Sarath works with an MNC and is all set to marry.

However, his porn addiction has made him doubtful of whether his marriage will work out. "My fantasies are now of having sex with older women,” he said. “So I am not sure I will be able to have a satisfying sexual life with my future wife." He is now attending counselling sessions with a psychologist to help him get over his obsession.

Accessing porn at an early age can be life-shattering. Your view of sex can get warped. Usually, peers provide the introduction but it can happen at home too. "Watching parents having sex, or children seeing porn downloaded by parents on their mobile phones can damage the youngsters," said psychiatrist Dr Elsie Oommen.

One result of watching porn is that people indulge in excessive masturbation. Unfortunately, too much of it can affect the sexual life of a person. It becomes more important than actual sex and eventually leads to erectile dysfunction.

Express takes a look at the impact of porn-watching on children, students, including girls, marriages and on office spaces, too, and how all this affects our society.

The teen tryst with porn

Anu Kuruvilla @ Kochi

The day Kirti Unni decided to check the search history of her 13-year-old brother's computer is still etched as clear as daylight in her memory. "I had a niggling doubt that something was not right with my brother," she said. "The hours he spent on the computer, apparently, searching for course materials or games were increasing. So, I decided to check his search history. It was good that he didn't know how to clear his search history," she said. When she opened the internet search history, the names of the websites that popped up shocked her to the core.

"It was that day I realised my brother was no longer a child. He has really grown up," she added.
In the case of Mathew George, the tryst with pornography began in Class VIII. "It began as a means to satisfy my curiosity. I wanted to know why my parents and elders were all hush-hush about sex.

So, when some boys in my class brought pictures of scantily-clad women, I too had a peek," he said. From pictures and magazines, Mathew graduated to porn CDs and then on to the internet. "You can't blame youngsters, especially the teens. We are curious and when society tries to turn sex into something
grotesque that can't or shouldn't be discussed openly, it piques our interest," he said.

According to Simon Roy, a teacher, students these days have access to the internet thanks to the smartphones. "When the parents buy their kids smartphones they don't realise it is actually leading them astray. The tendency to surf porn sites is seen to be more among boys, especially those studying in Classes XI and XII. It has come to my notice that even girls are into it. But, as of now, I have no evidence to prove it," he said.

Simon said the boys get porno material from their friends. "The entire thing circulates among friends." Smartphones, according to the high school teacher, are the bane. "Even though the schools don't allow phones on the campus, kids bring them surreptitiously. I have confiscated many mobile phones. Such materials get circulated when children go on tours or camps and during school programmes when they get a chance to come together in an informal atmosphere," he said.

One of the negative aspects of engaging in such an activity is that children lose the sense of propriety, said the teacher. "The line between the right and wrong gets blurred. Also, children develop weird tastes," he said. According to him, there have been cases in which boys have clicked photos of their female relatives and circulated it among their friends.

The only way to prevent children from getting hooked to such lewd materials is to educate them, he said. Psychologist Prakash Chandra agrees with Simon. "Parents and teachers should be able to talk to kids about sex. They should explain to the children about the negative effects of watching such sites and videos," he said. "Many cases have come before me. My youngest patient was a seven-year-old. But, the child didn't know what he was viewing. Cases of persons who have developed an aversion to sex after watching pornography also have come before me," he said.

In the age of the internet and smartphones, children are exposed to a lot of things, he said. "Don't be deluded that girls don't watch porn. They do so. However, there is a difference. Girls watch such videos in a group and don't act upon it. They forget all about it and sometimes even stop seeing such videos. Another thing to be taken note of is girls are persuaded by their boyfriends to see such videos. But in the case of boys, the habit persists," he added.

(Some names have been changed)

The effect on the middle-aged

Shevlin Sebastian @Kochi

Every night, Suresh Menon, 34, would come and lie down next to his wife Radhika, 29. Then he would give her a peck on her cheek and say, “I need to work a bit. Will come back later.”

Thereafter, Suresh, an IT professional, would go to another room, close the door, switch on the laptop and watch Internet porn for the next two hours. Then he would come back, lie next to his wife and pleasure himself. Radhika would look shocked and disappointed. A couple of years went by like this.
Soon, pressure began to grow on them from relatives to have a child. But Suresh just would not have any contact with Radhika, preferring to watch online porn.

 

“In the end, they came to me for counselling,” says Kochi-based psychologist Dr Prakash Chandran Arackal. “Despite several sessions, Suresh was not willing to stop.” Now five years after their marriage, both Suresh and Radhika have filed for a mutual divorce.

Due to its easy access, thanks to the ubiquitous mobile phones, the middle-aged, like the youth, are also viewing internet porn. “I would put it at about 30 per cent of this age group,” says Prakash. “Unfortunately, society does not regard online porn watching as a disease. But it is.” Therefore, it is no surprise, that everything is not hunky-dory, “Sometimes, husbands get so addicted that they force the wife to watch,” says Prakash. “As a result, many women are repelled by it.”

Nevertheless, there are also many middle-aged women who enjoy watching porn. But the unusual aspect is that unlike men, Malayali women like to watch in groups. “They feel it is safer that way,” says Prakash. “Many give saucy comments and there is a lot of laughter and enjoyment.”  But unlike men, even though they get stimulated by watching, women don't pleasure themselves. “Somehow, they feel inhibited,” he says.

For some, when they no longer have a physical relationship with their husbands, they opt for an extra-marital affair. Dhanya, 37, is married to Kishore, 42, who is an online addict. They have a 13-year-old boy. When Kishore stopped having physical relations, Dhanya began an affair with the manager of the firm she was working for. “But after a while, she felt guilty,” says Prakash. “So, she came to me for counselling. But Dhanya does not want to opt for divorce because of her son.”

Later, having got rid of her guilt, Dhanya embarked on another affair. “It is purely a physical relationship for her,” says Prakash.

(Some names have been changed)

FB accounts pushing child porn come under police scrutiny

Express-News Service@Kochi

The cyber wing of Kerala police has been scanning Facebook accounts of a few in the past five to six month as their activities in social media have raised suspicion on child sex, child pornography and
sex trafficking. Senior police officers confirmed social media has emerged as a new tool for rackets to lure customers into sex trafficking, offering pictures and profiles of children and girls.

Already, Kerala Police have started to flag certain Facebook Ids and community groups with a banner on its page with a warning "This page is under observation of Kerala Police Cyberdome". Kerala Police IT wing SP J Jayanath said numerous Facebook pages have been identified wherein contents and discussions related to paedophilia and child pornography are taking place.

"We are keeping a close watch and many a time, these FB accounts have turned out to be fake. We have flagged a few such profiles," he said, adding the IT wing will soon equip itself with software and the required infrastructure to exactly locate the system from wich these kinds of profiles are being activated.

Simultaneously, Cyberdome has also launched a massive clean up of fake profiles, pages, community groups relying on social media to carry out their operations. According to officers, a special lab was set up at Cyberdome facility in association with Indraprastha Institute of Information and Technology (IIIT), Delhi, to identify such users and host a warning message alerting the users of the group about its criminal activities. 

From 2011 itself, the Kerala Police have been receiving vital inputs from Interpol about the activities of certain IP addresses in Kerala which have been frequently surfing child pornography websites. A case was also registered against 20 Keralites for watching child porn websites after the Central Bureau of Investigation, which coordinates with the Interpol handed over the IP details to the state police.

Girls not averse to 'surfing'

Gopika IS @Kochi

Often the subdued gender when it comes to sexual expression, girls are not behind in watching porn. Sandra first watched porn when she was 14 while browsing through her parents' phone. And that
became a habit. However, one day, when she was 19, her mother found her crying in the bedroom, with the phone next to her. Sandra was so addicted she found it all overwhelming and it began affecting her studies.

Here is what a girl, now studying outside the state has to say about porn:

Divya was always a topper in school. Once she reached college, her grades started to fall and she became depressed. No one knew the cause. Divya began calling her seniors she had not even seen for years and expressed her desire to have sex with them. Caught between guilt, severe exposure to porn and drugs in her hostel, Divya regressed and brought up the crush she had as a girl on the senior students.

"One in three girls watches porn. However, they get scared and start feeling guilty. Sexual education has a long way to go in the state. However, I do not mean to say porn should be encouraged, but girls should be told watching porn may create mental and health problems," said an expert.

Dr Elsie Oomen, psychiatrist said, “Many girls picture themselves as ‘bad girls’ when they see porn. The notion is already rooted in their minds because they grew up in conservative households. Some
of them even end up being depressed, suffer from anxiety and even harm themselves.”

However, once they leave their family for further studies, they begin exploring their sexuality. “Apart from the exposure by unwitting parents and hormonal boyfriends, the rebelliousness also leads girls to try out new things. Addiction follows,” said Nazeema, a lecturer of psychology.

An open secret

Anoop Menon@Kochi

At first glance, Telegram feels like a mobile app out of a spy movie—a privacy-focussed communication program with military-grade encryption. That’s exactly what Renu felt when she first happened upon it. However, within minutes, after watching a quick YouTube tutorial, she learned how to use it and embraced its most potent characteristic—the secret chat.

This feature enables military-grade encryption (called MTProto) where text, sensitive often risqué photos/videos and files can be shared as self-destructing messages. This trait is the primary reason why Telegram’s founders, the Durov brothers - Pavel and Nikolai - initially launched the app. Renu is just one among the app’s 200 million global users who send over 15 billion messages to each other via this
platform every day.

Impressive statistics, if you take into consideration this five-year-old secretive communication program has not spent a single dime on advertising or marketing. Telegram is currently one of the hottest non-profit messaging apps in the world. So, how did it become so popular? For one, it’s easy-to-use. Besides its secret chat, channels are another prominent highlight on the messaging platform, as they allow messages to be broadcast to an indefinite number of
users.

This feature, when paired with the undeniable fact that Telegram channels are lightly moderated, has led to the rampant large-scale distribution of pornographic content, including aberrations like child pornography and bestiality.

There are some channels dedicated to risqué Indian content of questionable legality, with over 29,000 active users. Upon being approached for comment, Abraham, a member, explained, “Such channels have clear rules like no child pornography, bestiality, etc. Yet, the thing is, since Telegram uses remote cloud-based servers no one thoroughly moderates the content (except for factions like ISISWatch, which removes content from any terror outfits).  This means nothing downloaded/streamed ends up on the user’s mobile. So, even if my wife or child browses my phone's gallery folder, they will find nothing on it.”

As reported by Express, earlier this year, Telegram was temporarily banned from the Apple Store after a Kerala-based user in Malappuram was found to be the admin of multiple child porn channels. It is important to note Telegram clearly mentions such activities are against its Terms of Service (ToS). In a Twitter discussion with Edward Snowden, the renowned computer analyst and privacy expert, Telegram co-founder Pavel stated, “We enforce rules only if a particular public channel violates our very simple ToS – no public calls for violence, no porn, (and) no copyright infringement.”

*Names of Renu and Abraham have been changed on request*

No way to monitor: Cyber Cell

According to Pramod Y T, SI, Cyber Cell Kochi, it is impossible to monitor sharing of porn material among students. "What they do is download the videos and then share it among in the friends' group.

We can only identify the site being visited if they are online," he said. The only way to prevent this is to confiscate mobile phones, he added. "The government in a circular had given schools
and colleges the authority to confiscate students' phones. They can either return them after the academic year or put them up for auction and use the proceeds to fund PTA activities," he said.

Offices not immune

Pornography has found its way into office spaces too. Even CCTV camera's and the boss' eyes can't stop the pull of porn. After all, it is in this very country that a few legislators were found watching porn inside the Assembly while a session was going on. India stands third among the streamers of Porn Hub, one of the biggest porn sites.

Boredom at work, addiction to porn or even peer pressure make people watch porn in office. Most offices try to hush up such actions on the part of the staff, fearing for their reputation. In the case of porn addiction, work gets affected as the craving proves a distraction. For married men, what best place than away from suspicious wives' noses.

Same-sex porn

At one point in everyone's life, there comes a 'sexual exploration' or 'sexuality crisis.' Since same-sex relations are illegal in the country, the next best reference and experimentation obviously would seem to be porn. A recent study had revealed that people also rely on porn to explore their sexuality.

Watching porn lets them know of what turns them on and what does not. However, the pathway to addiction is shorter than many think.

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  • Goodwins

    Porn addiction is a problem that viewers can't overcome by themselves. They need a program that teaches them how to handle a temptation to view. The program I recommend that is the most effective is the one in the book Power Over Pornography. It has a high success rate
    2 months ago reply
  • Ganesh Subbarayan

    Dear sir I am a lecturer in media in Chennai
    2 months ago reply