News Ticker

Virtual Reality & Porn

By: Stephen J Smith

I can’t imagine what it was like raising kids in the 1960’s. There are many TV shows that paint a somewhat idyllic portrait of life during those times. LEAVE IT TO BEAVER, was one of my favorite programs. I recall one episode that depicted the rather simple problems that Larry Mondello’s parents had raising that chubby, not very bright classmate of the “Beave.”

SCRIPT EXCERPT

Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver: You wanna’ mess around later?

Larry Mondello: I can’t, I’m grounded.

Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver:  How come?

                                                  Larry Mondello: My father caught me eating pie in bed.

 Ah… what parent wouldn’t  give a week’s pay to have such issues today? Yet, the 1960’s  was the start of an era that launched the famous Jacobellis v. Ohio obscenity case.

But what actually is obscenity? “I know it when I see it”  was famously written by United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart in 1964  to describe his view of obscenity in that same case.

Stewart wrote:

I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.

I wonder if he saw those images in brilliant colors and in 3D if he would have changed his mind. I wonder if he envisioned an era when every kind of pornography would immediately available to every teen in 2017? The answer: Of course not.

The images in question were tame compared to current standards. Today’s TV commercials for Victoria’s Secret might often be more revealing – or at least as seductive – to the 13 year old boy whose evening TV show is interrupted by half-naked models selling… well, you know  what they’re selling.

It’s difficult today for teens to navigate their own insecurities — as their minds are fueled by raging hormones and their eyes and ears flooded by media’s ideals of the perfect man or woman.

Sex sells everything from hamburgers – to cars – to beer… and we wonder why children are confused, restless and self-absorbed.

Add to the equation the aforementioned 7×24 access to pornography via the web, and it’s a recipe for rewired brains and a change in how this generation views intimacy.

THE ORIGINS OF PORNOGRAPHY

Where did this all begin? Frankly, pornography has been around since man first scratched crude illustrations on cave walls. Around 1440, thanks to our good friend  German inventor Johannes Gutenberg,  man discovered that he could print multiple copies of the Bible – as well as distribute pornography to the masses.

Then again in 1749, erotic graphic art was widely created and distributed in Paris, eventually coming to be known by many as “French postcards.”

Although we think of pornographic films as a recent phenomenon – but in the era of the roaring 20’s  — they were widely available to what we thought was a tame, puritanical society.

ENOUGH IS NOT ENOUGH

Perhaps thanks to the mainstreaming of pornography from the likes of Hugh Hefner in the 1950’s – viewers wanted more than the printed naked pictures in Playboy. Thus by the 1960s pornographic films surged.

The growth continued with the development of videocassettes in the 1980s — and with DVDs in the 1990s the pornography industry continued to grow. However, perhaps no one saw what was on the horizon with the Internet.

Beyond simply creating  an immense marketplace for pornography — the Internet also encouraged many amateurs to post images of themselves. Moreover, the use of webcams opened the industry even further — allowing individuals to post their activity LIVE. Sadly, the Internet also increased the availability of child pornography.

By now you might be thinking, “What does this have to do with Virtual Reality and my child?”  The answer: A Lot.

TEEN PORNOGRAPHY CONSUMPTION STATISTICS

What we think of today as “run-of-the-mill” pornography is being consumed by our children in unheard of numbers. With Virtual Reality, it’s about to get worse.

According to Therapy Associates, a Utah based professional assessment and treatment service for children, teens, parents and families – this is just a small part of what our kids are exposed to today:

  •  The average age a child first sees internet pornography is 11
  • 93 % of boys and 62% of girls are exposed to internet pornography before the age of 18
  • 70% of young men ages 18-24 visit pornographic websites on at least a monthly basis
  • 35% of boys have done this on at least ten occasions
  • 83% of boys have seen group sex on the internet
  • 56% of divorce cases involve one party having an obsessive interest in online porn
  • 12% of websites on the internet are pornographic
  • 25% of search engine requests each day are pornography related—approximately 70 million per day
  • Only 3% of pornographic websites require age verification
  • The most popular day of the week for viewing pornography is Sunday.

As teens and tweens become accustomed to porn, the next images need to be even more sensational in order to keep their interest and increase the level of dopamine to satisfy their cravings. This often impacts a user’s ability to sustain relationships with their girlfriend and boyfriends, wives and spouses. Each new experience requires and even greater, more daring visual image.

Thus enters the world of Virtual Reality and the images that it offers. But first let’s address the devices before the vices:

THE DEVICES & VICES

There are many developers of new Virtual Reality devices and content. Oculus, Samsung, HTC, Google and Sony are but a few. However, just to better define the interest as it relates to porn — consider the terms,  “virtual reality porn”  and “virtual reality sex” are two of the top 10 keywords for searches related to Virtual Reality.

In Japan during the spring of 2016, a virtual reality pornography festival was forced to close due to overcrowding. The venue was too small to accommodate the crowd.

Further, as  NEWSWEEK TECH writer, Seung Lee wrote in his June, 16th 2016 article following his  first encounter with VR Porn, “The moment I knew that virtual reality porn worked was when the naked, voluptuous woman began an oil massage as I rested in an armchair in a tropical vacation house in Hawaii. The massage escalated to sex in a hurry.”

As parents we must be aware that a child’s brain – in the best of homes – are not completely wired until well after their teen years. However, exposure to pornography can actually rewire an already underdeveloped brain before its time. This overstimulation of the reward circuitry through dopamine spikes resulting from viewing pornography—creates desensitization. When dopamine receptors drop after too much stimulation, the brain will not respond as it had in the past. As such, there is less reward from the pleasure.

Back to our chubby friend Larry Modello in the 1960’s, perhaps eating one Moon Pie satisfied his appetite. But after a while, he’d need two and then three… you get the picture.

This leads users to search even harder for feelings of satisfaction such as for longer porn sessions, with more frequency – and today through the ultimate porn experience – Virtual Reality.

YOUTUBE

The overwhelming majority of teens use YouTube. In fact, in our recent survey of middle and high school students, YouTube was the number one app on their phones. However, type VIRTUAL REALITY PORN in the YouTube search bar and you’ll be deluged with search returns with titles such as:

  • WIFE CATCHES HER HUSBAND WATCHING VIRTUAL REALITY PORN
  • TRYING VIRTUAL REALITY PORN WITH MY DATE;
  • VIRTUAL REALITY PORN IS HERE AND IT’S SCARY REALISTIC
  • VIRTUAL REALITY PORN WITH NIKKI

If you’re not filtering YouTube on your child’s device – your child already has access to the images and information as to how to access true, 3D virtual reality. Since less that 50% of parents monitor what their children do on their devices, this has become a significant issue for families.

RESOURCES

Because research suggests that most pornography and sexual addictions begin during adolescence, Therapy Associates based in Utah,  provide this very informative paper titled:  Navigating Pornography Addiction A Guide for Parents

Additionally, I highly recommend that parents view the documentary produced by Channel 4 in the UK on this issue: Channel 4Ponrography and the brain:

As the Channel 4 program illustrates,  with teens the patterns of brain activity when viewing porn are very  similar to those of individuals  with drug and alcohol addictions when they view  pictures of alcohol and drugs. It is clear that it can create problems for some adolescents and young adults who use it. Moreover, it’s not just the addiction – it’s how these young people will view intimacy and relationships as they get older.

So where do you go from here? I suggest you go back to an article we wrote about two years ago titled:  SIMON DAYS TAKE 10 STEPS FORWARD: Virtual Pornography, which will likely be  available in an app stores soon – and can already be integrated with your child’s phone  and certain VR gaming system headsets – is nothing more than  another app. As  such, it will be part of every parent’s responsibility to manage their child’s activity.

Here are some key strategies:

TAKE 10 STEPS FORWARD

  1. Talk To Your Child & Your Peers about their online activity and create a plan to work together on what they can and cannot do. You must connect with your child on these issues.
  2. Establish A Tech Free Zone In Your Home
  3. Own Your Child’s iTunes & Google Play Password
  4. Check your wireless provider’s Account Activity
  5. Subscribe to your carrier’s Parental Controls
  6. Access Other Parental Controls & Your Wireless Router
  7. Automatically Backup Your Child’s Photos To The Cloud
  8. Understand & Audit Your Family’s Private Information
  9. Keep On Top Of Trends by reading on such great apps as FLIPBOARD.
  10. Talk To Your Child Again and Again

 Parenting today is many ways is much harder than in the days of LEAVE IT TO BEAVER.  The temptations and access to pornography is greater at a time when both parents are working and have less time to parent. Getting your arms around the technology and temptations must start today.

Although technology is responsible for so much good in the lives of our children – I’m sure most of us would love for a day when the biggest issue we face is our children eating pie in bed.

About Stephen J Smith

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