video games and porn: addictions run wild in young americans

MEDIA ADDICTED AMERICA
(PHONES, PORN, VIDEO GAMES, AND ELECTRONIC MEDIA)

Porn Gaming Addiction

“On any given day, teens in the United States spend about nine hours using media for their enjoyment, according to the report by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit focused on helping children, parents and educators navigate the world of media and technology.  Let’s put nine hours in context for a second. That’s more time than teens typically spend sleeping, and more time than they spend with their parents and teachers. And the nine hours does not include time spent using media at school or for their homework.”  From Kelly Wallace’s November 3, 2015 report on CNN called Teens Spend a ‘Mind-Boggling’ Nine Hours a Day Using Media

“The thing is, no matter what you think of pornography (whether it’s harmful or harmless fantasy), the science is there. After 40 years of peer-reviewed research, scholars can say with confidence that porn is an industrial product that shapes how we think about gender, sexuality, relationships, intimacy, sexual violence and gender equality — for the worse.”  Dr. Gail Dines from the Washington Post’s April 8 issue (Is Porn Immoral? That Doesn’t Matter: It’s A Public Health Crisis)

Well, they say it’s kinda fright’nin’ how this younger generation swings.
You know, it’s more than just some new sensation.

From Van Halen’s 1980 Album, Women and Children First (And the Cradle Will Rock)

There’s no way around it, we are a society of excesses — an addicted society if you will.  We’re addicted to PRESCRIPTION DRUGS (HERE’S another).  We’re addicted to RECREATIONAL DRUGS.  We’re addicted to CIGARETTES and alcohol.  We’re crazy addicted to JUNK FOOD — most particularly SUGAR and SODA.  And above all, we’re brain-locked to electronic media of all kinds.  What has our national addiction to electronics done?   

Electronic media has created a monster; a society — particularly the younger segment of society — that, no matter where we are — out with friends, in church or school, walking down the sidewalk, eating out with the family, or driving down the highway — can’t seem to put down our collective phones.  Thus, we shouldn’t be surprised that according to many experts, using electronic media of some sort is virtually non-stop; particularly for the younger crowd.  From the time they wake up, to the time they go to sleep.

The Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2010 study, Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8 to 18 Year-Olds revealed that when two devices were used together (i.e. phone and laptop), it brought the total time spent with media to over 10.5 hours per day.  But that study was done nearly seven years ago.  The situation has gotten more extreme since then.   What do people think of their own cell phone use?

A study published one year ago this month in the medical journal PLoS One (Beyond Self-Report: Tools to Compare Estimated and Real-World Smartphone Use) concluded that, “Estimated levels of smartphone use have previously been related to sleep, interpersonal relationships, driving safety, and personality. Here we observe that self-reported estimates of phone use relate moderately to actual behavior in such situations.”  The problem was, in this study, the population underestimated by half how much time they spend on their phones. “Actual uses amounted to more than double the estimated number.”  Honestly, none of this is really news.  But what about video games?

I grew up in the pinball age, but well remember when games like Pong, Space Invaders and Pac Man came on the scene in the late 70’s and early 80’s.  Looking back, these games are utterly simplistic compared to what’s out there now.  Some of the latest games have extensive and in-depth story lines, and the graphics are incredibly life-like.  This combination makes gaming extremely enticing; particularly to young males.  Instead of going outside, building forts, and playing war or ‘good guys and bad guys’, you can play anything, anytime you want, from the comfort of your living room / bedroom.  Which begs the question of just how enticing / addicting are video games?

According to a three and a half year old study / survey from the people who give us TV ratings, Nielsen (Multi-Platform Gaming for the Win), “As gaming companies continue to release everything from next generation consoles to hyper-addictive mobile apps, today’s gamer has a vast array of options to choose from.  Players aged 13 and over spend more than six hours a week on any gaming platform. That’s a 12 percent increase from the 5.6 hours they spent with gaming platforms in 2012. And what’s more, U.S. console gamers are diversifying the devices they play on, as 50 percent say they also play games on a mobile or tablet device, up from 35 percent in 2011. This multi-platform trend suggests that the introduction of new platforms isn’t cannibalizing gaming time. Rather, it’s strengthening gamer engagement.”  Extrapolating these figures would put current video game usage at almost an hour a day, seven days a week.  But this doesn’t really take into account the hardcore gamer.

It’s amazing how many parents and grandparents I’ve talked to who complain about little Johnny’s video game habits.  “That child will spend 16 hours in front of that TV playing those damn games unless I make him move.”  This isn’t’ really surprising.  What is surprising is that when researching video game addiction for this post, just how many treatment centers there are nationwide.  For instance, Video Game Addiction dot org (Never Too Old for Video Games) said that, “Video games and computer games are heavily marketed toward teens and young adults, but recent studies show the average video game addict is 35 years old. The research also shows that compulsive gamers are fatter and more depressed than the general population.  The study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory University and Andrews University, analyzed data from more than 500 adults ranging in age from 19 to 90 in the Seattle-Tacoma area. The researchers found significant correlations between playing video and computer games and a variety of health risks….”  But as you will begin to see, this study is barely scratching the surface of this problem (as a side note to this, I recently treated an individual for wrist problems brought on by playing various first person shooters 6-8 hours a day).

I could go into paragraph after paragraph of statistics about video game addiction, but instead, will leave you with one last study (unpublished) that was released less than two months ago by Erik Hurst, who headed up a collaboration of scientists from his institution and Princeton University. Dr. Hurst is an economist at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. His chief areas of study are household financial behavior and labor markets.  The university’s Becker Friedman Institute ran an article on Hurst back in July that concerned some of these “household financial behaviors” as they pertain to young, unemployed, American males, with less education than a four year college degree (extremely cherry-picked)

“I’m interested in employment rates of young (in their twenties), non-college educated men. In prior work on changes in demand for low-skilled labor, the theory exists that as technology advances, both employment and wages fall due to decreased demand.  I’m almost flipping that theory on its head by asking if it is possible that technology can also affect labor supply.  If leisure time is more enjoyable, and as prices for these technologies [internet / video games] continue to drop, people may be less willing to work at any given wage.  In the 2000s, employment rates for this group dropped sharply – more than in any other group. The hours that they are not working have been replaced almost one for one with leisure time. Seventy-five percent of this new leisure time falls into one category: video games. The average low-skilled, unemployed man in this group plays video games an average of 12, and sometimes upwards of 30 hours per week. These individuals are living with parents or relatives, and happiness surveys actually indicate that they are quite content compared to their peers.”

Wow!  When I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL, people not only liked to and wanted to work, I’m not sure I knew anyone who did not at least have a summer job.  In other words, young people worked.  Period.  It was what you did.  I have been noticing the reversal of this trend for years as I ask young men (or their parents) what they’re doing with themselves these days.  It’s an amazing phenomenon and one that you can read about extensively by Googling “Erik Hurst Video Games,” as dozens of media outlets and magazines picked up on his work and wrote articles about it, complete with interviews of young men, none of whom seem too worried about the way they were living their lives.  They don’t seem to be bothered or embarrassed in the least to sit in front of a screen every waking hour, sponging off their parents and the AMERICAN TAX PAYER).  

Samuel James, writing for First Things, said in his August 2 piece (America’s Lost Boys), “In other words, the time these young men spend on Xbox and Playstation does not offer them relief from the stress of joblessness and existential inertia. On the contrary, for them it’s part of Living the Dream.”  Which brings me to the next area I am covering today; internet porn.  In the same article as above, listen to James continue (again, extremely cherry-picked). 

“American men aged 18-30 are now statistically more likely to be living with their parents than with a romantic partner. Hurst’s research says that these men are single, unoccupied, and fine with that—because their happiness doesn’t depend on whether they are growing up and living life. This prolonged delay of marriage and relational commitment often means a perpetual adolescence in other areas of life. Love and sex are arguably the best incentives for men to assert their adulthood. Could it be that one reason that millions of young American men feel satisfied with their perpetual adolescence is that their sexual appetites are sated by a steady diet of internet porn? No woman they could meet at the coffee shop or on the church camping trip could possibly compete with these perfectly toned, perfectly undemanding models.  A connection between enslavement to video games and enslavement to pornography is not far-fetched. As Russell Moore has noted, the former offers “fake war,” while the latter offers “fake love.” Between the Xbox and the X-rating, a young man can oscillate from the primal thrills of conquest to the orgasmic comfort of faux-intimacy.”

James’ and Moore’s theory is addressed by a case study (…Internet Gaming Disorder Associated with Pornography Use) published in the September, 2015 issue of The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine.  When I started researching this post a couple of weeks ago, I was not only shocked at the number of treatment centers for gaming addicts (not to mention the number of peer-reviewed scientific studies on the subject), I was doubly shocked at the incredible number of treatment centers for porn addicts — huge numbers of which have nothing to do with religious belief.  For those who think that porn is no big deal, or simply one more thing for religious fuddy duddies to rally against, listen to some cherry-picked results from a study published by the US Navy back in August (Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports). 

“Traditional factors that once explained men’s sexual difficulties appear insufficient to account for the sharp rise in erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation, decreased sexual satisfaction, and diminished libido during partnered sex in men under 40.  This review also considers evidence that Internet pornography‘s unique properties (limitless novelty, potential for easy escalation to more extreme material, video format, etc.) may be potent enough to condition sexual arousal to aspects of Internet pornography use that do not readily transition to real-life partners, such that sex with desired partners may not register as meeting expectations and arousal declines. Clinical reports suggest that terminating Internet pornography use is sometimes sufficient to reverse negative effects.”

It’s no wonder that when you combine our RAGING RATE OF PHYSICAL SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION with porn-induced sexual dysfunction, the number of people no longer capable of having sex is through the roof.  If you go to PubMed and type “Pornography Addiction” into the search bar, you will get over five pages of results.  After skimming titles and abstracts of studies being done at secular universities from around the world, It’s fairly easy to see that not only does this fit virtually every criteria for addiction as outlined by neuroscientists and addictionologists, but is spiraling out of control in our nation’s children — boys and girls.  ‘Girls,’ you say — ‘I thought only boys were doing the porn thing?’  Wrong again.  A study done at Italy’s University of Padova and published in this past May’s issue of the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health (Adolescents and Web Porn: A New Era of Sexuality) looked at anonymous surveys filled out by 1,500 high school seniors (male and female).   What did they learn?

Pornography can affect the lifestyles of adolescents, especially in terms of their sexual habits and porn consumption, and may have a significant influence on their sexual attitudes and behaviors….  It is necessary to educate web users, especially young users, to a safe and responsible use of the Internet and of its contents. Moreover, public education campaigns should be increased in number and frequency to help improve knowledge of Internet-related sexual issues both by adolescents and by parents.”

The problem is, as I have already shown you, government-funded PSA’S and “CAMPAIGNS” don’t work.  So rather than waste time, I found some YouTube Ted Talks that approach this topic from a totally secular / non-religious point of view.  I will warn you that the talk by Dr. Gail Dines, a professor of sociology at Boston’s Wheelock College, lays it out there in language that will offend some of you.  She also happens to offer the best explanation of why young girls are rapidly becoming, in her words, “pornified” (if you have young sons, daughters, grandsons, or granddaughters, you might want to watch).  Dr. Dine’s talk — particularly the last part — will also help you understand why there’s been a massive surge in HUMAN TRAFFICKING right in the Ozarks, that’s getting worse instead of better.

It’s sad that we have a tendency to see so many things in life through the lens of media.  I was conversing with a person a few weeks ago who was telling me just how many things we view through movies we have seen.  For instance, I myself have used one of my favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger lines (Predator) a number of times on this site in relationship to finding solutions to various health problems (IF IT BLEEDS WE CAN KILL IT).  Or even, at the beginning of this post, quoting lyrics from an old Van Halen song from when I was 13 years old.  This friend told me about a neighbor of his who didn’t really have a clue about what the internet was, let alone how to use it, but has numerous amazing life stories to tell if you’ll sit down and listen. 

For instance, this older man grew up in the Depression and was actually coming back to Missouri from somewhere out West.  He and his siblings were riding wherever they could find room, in the back of a canvas-tarped truck that was loaded down with their families possessions (think Grapes of Wrath here).  This child had found himself a perch up in the “rafters” so to speak and was half freezing as they made their way through the Rockies, and across Kansas.  They burned out a wheel bearing in Kansas and since they were being chased by a blizzard; with a bearing being several days away by mail from the small town they were in, they rigged up a bearing made from greased shoe leather.  It lasted just long enough to get them back to Missouri.

It’s a shame we can’t go back to simpler times where MEN WERE MEN and everyone enjoyed CLEAN, OLD-FASHIONED FUN.  But with a few exceptions, I don’t see that happening any time soon.  What must happen if we are going to turn this whole crazy thing around is parents stepping up to the plate and being parents.  If you connect the dots from today’s post (phones / gaming / porn), you’ll realize that both gaming and internet porn are easily consumed via smart phone.  There are about a jillion resources for monitoring your kid’s electronic behavior, many of them free or extremely inexpensive.

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