Admissions Director Tiffany Silva, LCSW, compares teen online sex addiction to an iceberg. Parents can see the tip of the iceberg, but there are often greater dangers that they do not see. Because cybersex or viewing online pornography can take place in the privacy of a teen’s bedroom, parents are seldom aware of the extent of their teens’ addiction. Moreover, cybersex is a relatively new problem that many parents struggle to understand. Let’s take an objective look at some statistics related to online sex addiction.
Sex on the Internet
According to a 2010 report from the Family Safe Media:
- 1/4 of all online search engine requests are pornographic.
- 1/3 of Internet users report unwanted exposure to sexual content.
- 2/3 of junior high school students have viewed online pornography.
- 34% of those students are at risk for developing compulsive online sexual behavior.
- 8.9 million people in the U.S. need therapeutic intervention as a result of their addiction to cybersex.
- Most consumers of Internet pornography are between ages 12 and 17.
These numbers are alarming for many parents. Exposure to online pornography can be harmful to young people by promoting sexist attitudes which make it difficult for them to sustain relationships. Furthermore, teens are still at-risk even if that exposure is unintentional. Moreover, few parents would be comfortable with their teen viewing any form of Internet porn.
Online Sex Industry
Let’s take a look at the industry responsible for making pornography. Based on information from Child-Proofing on the World Wide Web (2001) and National Research Council Report (2002):
- 74% of commercial pornography sites display free teaser porn images on the homepage, often porn banner ads.
- 66% of sites did not include a warning of adult content.
- 25% prevented users from exiting the site.
- Only 3% required adult verification.
Given the profitability of online pornography, these unethical practices are not likely to change. According to a 2006 report from Family Safe Media, the Internet pornography industry generates 12 billion dollars in annual revenue.
Teen Online Sex Addiction
Because of their familiarity with technology, casual attitudes toward cybersex, and interest in experimenting or risk-taking behavior, students are the group most at-risk for cybersex addiction. With teens at particular risk for online sexual addiction, it is not surprising that a Stanford/Duquesne study completed in 2000 described cybersex as a public health hazard. The risk of addiction is only increasing because few health organizations recognize it as a danger. The study also found at least 200,000 Internet users are addicted to online sexual content. Although pornography or cybersex addiction is increasingly common, it can be difficult to know whether or not someone you love is struggling with addiction.
Because of the shame involved in this kind of behavior, 70% of people who participate in cybersex keep it a secret. While this topic can be difficult for parents to discuss, parents need to seek help if they believe their teen is suffering from online sex addiction. Due to the severity of sexual addiction issues, it is better to address them as early as possible.
If you suspect that someone you love is suffering from online sex addiction, please seek professional help. For young men between the age of 13 – 17, Oxbow Academy can help. Please contact us at (855) 676-4272.