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Internet pornography - what are possible risks of frequent consumption?

Pornographic content on the Internet is now anonymous, unlimited and available in its entire range. 1 At the same time, the acquisition of pornographic pictures and films through the Internet has become simple and partially free. The effects of excessive consumption are increasingly being studied scientifically from various disciplines (including sexual research, developmental psychology, media impact research). In addition to the phenomenon of addictive use of pornographic content on the Internet, further problems are also investigated (for example, the use of illegal content, tolerance development regarding sexual violence and negative effects on the ability to relate and bind). 2 Much of the research and discussion of risks and dangers relates to adolescents, as in this age span"(...) create sexual preferences and needs", while the brain is under development and structures.

Together with online play, online Sex offers seem to have a particularly high dependency potential. 4 It could be shown that, in particular, a time-intensive use of online Sex offers significantly increases the probability of developing a dependency one year later. 5 The addiction potential of Internetpornography is associated with the distribution of dopamine and the activation of the centers of desire in the brain. In terms of learning psychology, various mechanisms are involved. We learn particularly well when we are linked to emotions (here: excitement, orgasm) when we are in a vulnerable phase (for example, puberty), and when we are dealing with the first sexual experiences. 6 At this point, the relevance of the effect in the youth age is particularly evident. Thus, by considering e.g. Pictures with pornographic content strong positive feelings (see also the dopamine distribution described above), they can lead in the sense of a reward to the reinforcement of the behavior, thus to more frequent consumption. In addition, the repeated linkage between an initially non-sexually charged stimulus (for example represented violence) and the sexually arousing content can lead to the fact that both aspects are closely linked and then also violence presentations can trigger excitement.

"The seen is gradually taken over into one's own system of values and norms and, if necessary, to the instruction of the hand, especially if the" role models "have positive consequences (sexual pleasure)." 7

A recent study from the brain research conducted by the Max Planck Institute for Human Development investigated the extent to which the frequency of pornographic content in the brain is reflected. It could be concluded that with increasing pornography consumption the volume of a region in the reward system of the brain decreased. With increased consumption, the rewards of viewing images with pornographic content were also lower than in men who consumed less. It is thought that this will result in stronger incentives being needed to maintain a similar level of rewarding experience. 9 It also discusses how pornographic content of adolescents is assessed. From a psychophysiological point of view, mechanisms of modeling might be effective, e.g. In the form of acceptance in the social environment or images in the media. 10

The risks presented, which can be associated with frequent use of Internet pornography, highlight the importance of raising awareness of the topic, especially with regard to the age of the young. It is important to accompany and support children and adolescents so that they do not come into contact with contents early and unintentionally, which they perceive as frightening or even disturbing. This is often a challenge because of the free accessibility of these offers and the media equipment of children and adolescents. Accompanying and supporting here means, in addition, to get into the conversation about pornography and give them a scaffolding of values ​​and norms, with which the contents can be classified and an own idea of ​​sexuality and also of partnership can be developed. Together with the elucidation of possible risks and dangers, young people can learn how to deal with sexual content on the Internet.


  • Döring N.(2009). The Internet’s Impact on Sexuality. A Critical Review of 15 Years of Research. Computers Human Behav (25): 1089-1101.
  • Freitag, T. (2012). Internet- und Computer-Sex-Sucht. Psychiatrie & Neurologie (Schweiz) (5), 28-30. Abgerufen am 15.08.2016 auf: http://www.tabea-freitag.de/fileadmin/tabea-freitag/pdf/Neurologie___Psychiatrie_11_2012_internet_und_compisucht.pdf
  • Doidge, N. (2014). Neustart im Kopf: Wie sich unser Gehirn selbst repariert. New York: Campus Verlag. 2. Auflage.
  • Meerkerk, G-J., Van Den Eijnden, R. J., Garretsen, H. F. (2006). Predicting Compulsive Internet Use: It's All about Sex! CyberPsychology & Behavior. February 2006, 9(1): 95-103. doi:10.1089/cpb.2006.9.95.
  • Hüther G (2007) Seminar am 14./15.9.2007 “Brainwash – die Macht der äußeren Bilder“.
  • Freitag, T. (2011). Auswirkungen von Pornografiekonsum. Prä & Pro, Fachzeitschrift der Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Prävention und Prophylaxe, 1(13):1-20. Abgerufen am 15.08.2016 auf: http://www.rollenspielsucht.de/resources/Pornografie-RisikenundNebenwirkungen.pdf
  • Kühn, S., Gallinat, J. (2014). Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity Associated With Pornography Consumption. JAMA Psychiatry. 2014;71(7):827-834. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.93.

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