The World Health Organization describes “sexual internet-based preoccupations” (e.g., viewing pornography) as one of the four core concerns of digital technology use among youth. This section of the toolkit focuses on the compulsive use of online pornography by children and youth. This includes children and youth inadvertently exposed to pornography, problematic use of pornography by youth and young adults, and sexting by young people.
Children and youth of the newer generation are people born between 1995 and 2015. They are currently between the ages of 4 and 24 and have grown up in an online world. Trends show that some individuals have had unprecedented access to pornography and the sharing of sensitive images. At the very least, engagement in viewing pornography will present challenges for some children and youth.
Watching violent online pornography creates associations between sex and violence in the developing adolescent brain. Pornography overstimulates the brain with increased amounts of neurotransmitters and dopamine, stimulating new neural connections that reinforce the experience. The ongoing reinforcement contributes to the user seeking out more explicit content in order to achieve the same level of excitement that was once experienced.
Various prevention and intervention strategies can be used by service providers in school settings, homes, and communities when working in collaboration with these different systems.
The clinical description portrayed is fictional. Any resemblance with real cases are purely coincidental.
There are screening and assessment tools supported by scientific research that can assist service providers with the clinical decision-making process. Before using any instrument, service providers must take into account previous referrals, evaluations, diagnoses, prescribed medications and treatment history. Possibly, service providers can offer different resources such as translation services, social or psychological support, and medical care before entering the screening and assessment process.
This section provides resources and recommendations that address issues related to children’s health and their relationship to the use of online pornography.