How online porn is impacting a generation

He was only in Year 12 but had already been struggling for many years with pornography. In his own words, he believed himself to be addicted. Over the years, he told me, the material he was viewing gradually became more and more intense and aggressive. He said he was now finding himself viewing material that was frightening, and he felt completely trapped and utterly alone.

He shared how he’d begun locking his phone in a drawer each night - but had lacked the willpower to leave it there. In desperation, and feeling trapped by his addiction, he’d finally taken his phone, walked down the street and thrown it down a drain ...

For Family Zone cyber experts Dave and Katie Kobler, heartbreaking stories like this one are all too familiar. In their work with high-school students all across Australia, they routinely hear the secrets that young people are too frightened to tell their parents. Many of them revolve around pornography addiction.

BYTE 5 (1)Dave and Katie Kobler of educational consultancy Protect Our Kids, turning taboo topics into everyday conversations at high schools around Australia. 

Harrowing statistics

We know that 64% of young people, ages 13–24, actively seek out pornography weekly or more often. We know too that the habit is closely associated with increases in verbal and physical aggression, for both boys and girls. And we know that, for young viewers, the line between fantasy and reality is becoming hopelessly blurred.

More and more kids say online porn is their number-one source for sex education - and cheerfully admit to researchers that it gives them ideas about the type of sex they’d like to try.

One child's story

But it’s the stories of fear and confusion that young people confide in Dave and Katie that really convey the devastating effects of habitual viewing.

Like the Year 12 student who discovered that his porn addiction had led to erectile dysfunction with his first real-life girlfriend.

 I was that guy who saw pornography really young. By high school, I was right into it ... watching every night."

“I was that guy who saw pornography really young,” the 17-year-old told Dave Kobler.  “By the time I was in high school I was right into it, me and my friends would joke about it all the time. None of us really thought there was any issue with it, but I was pretty much watching it every night.

“This year I’ve started my first relationship. We’ve been dating for about six months now and about a month ago we started to talk about having sex.  We were both virgins. So, I was at her house, and we were making out. We each took off the other’s clothes - but as we went to have sex I realised I wasn’t turned on.

“Dave, I was so embarrassed. No matter what we tried I just couldn’t get turned on.

“I went home and I googled 'I’m a 17-year-old virgin who watches porn but can’t get turned on by my girlfriend - what's wrong?' 

Dave Kobler recalls the boy “looking me in the eyes with a look of fear that I will never forget.”

“I don’t get it,” the young man repeated. “Why the heck can I get turned on by porn, but I can’t get turned on by my girlfriend?”

Dave’s answer? “By watching pornography for over a decade he has metaphorically been filling his car with aviation fuel instead of petrol. Now he’s burnt out the system and won't work the way it should.

iStock-456582731 (2)

“Now I can tell you this young guy didn’t watch pornography because he wanted to burn out his sex drive. He began watching pornography because he was interested and curious. But he  wasn’t aware of the potential threat to his wellbeing and how it could affect his future relationships.”

Psychological impotence on the rise

Sadly, this Year 12’s experience is not an isolated case, say experts. Psychological impotence in young boys - once a rarity - is now being widely documented.

Porn is addictive, and that means the habit is likely to escalate into compulsion.  Over time, users find the original “dosage” no longer gratifies, and increasingly intense and violent exposures are required to achieve arousal. Reality, in the form of a real-life young woman, simply can’t compete.

In Dave Kobler’s words: “Porn creates a violent, damaging, non-consensual script to sex that leaves the children being educated by it as the victims in its wake.”

What can parents do?

Dave and Katie recommend two lines of defense. The first, and most important, is ongoing, open conversations with your child - ideally beginning in the early primary years or whenever questions about sex and relationship first occur naturally.

According to some estimates, Australian kids’ first exposure to online porn now occurs as early as age eight. That means children must feel safe and comfortable talking to their parents about what they see online from a very early age. Curiosity about sex and relationships is natural and healthy, and children’s questions need to be encouraged - even celebrated - the Koblers stress.

Secondly, they recommend that every family install strong parental controls to automatically block adult content on children’s devices and manage their screen-time, especially in the danger zone between 10 pm and 2 am.


The Koblers endorse Family Zone’s acclaimed parental controls, to protect every child’s device, everywhere - and use it for their own family of four. To learn more, or start your free trial, visit familyzone.com today.


Topics: Parental Controls, Screen time, online gaming, online pornography, erectile dysfunction

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