11 Jan 2017

Kids aren't taught how to deal with online porn - therapist

12:54 pm on 11 January 2017

New Zealanders need to be better equipped from a young age to understand the dangers of internet porn, a sex therapist says.

Male in front of a computer screen in the dark.

Recent figures showed New Zealand in the top ten of countries per capita viewing the pornography website Pornhub in 2016. Photo: Pixabay

Wellington man Brodie used to be a heavy user of pornography when he was younger.

He's since turned a corner but remembered porn as a quick and easy way to answer questions about sex.

"Where ever there is reticence to talk openly about sex, that creates the lack of information that porn is one solution for young men.

"Around most dinner tables in New Zealand if it was brought up... it would be kind of an awkward topic right?"

He said it was clear there was a widespread problem, especially among young men in New Zealand.

"Actually had a chance meeting with someone who's a sex educator.

"Their counselling rooms are full of young guys as young as like 13, 14, who are having trouble having intimacy in real life situations," he said.

"Being with a partner can't compare to the arousal they've felt on screen."

Recent figures showed New Zealand in the top ten of countries per capita viewing the pornography website Pornhub in 2016.

Mary Hodson is a sex therapist and the regional director for Sex Therapy New Zealand in the central North Island and Wellington.

She's alarmed New Zealanders are not equipped from a young age to understand the dangers of internet porn.

"They've learned about the biological processes that happen at school.

"How the female reproductive process and male process work together to produce a child but we haven't taught them anything much about relationships," Hodson said.

"Certainly until very recently [schools] haven't taught them anything at all about the effects of internet porn and overuse of masturbation."

One problem, she said, is that often school nurses or physical education teachers take on the responsibility of teaching sex ed but they're not trained for it.

"We desperately need some funding for this, I think we need a co-ordinated effort across the school curriculum for sex eduction to get this information out there."

Ms Hodson said at the moment there is some government funding that trickles down to people with sex and porn addiction problems through various counselling regimes.

People can also go to private sexual therapy counselling providers like her.

Timothy McMichael is a counsellor who helps people and couples with sex problems.

He said porn isn't always a negative thing for a relationship.

Mr McMichael said in cases were there were problems around sex and intimacy, porn can help the couple.

"I might suggest they might want to go and explore by viewing some porn to see whether this is something which actually resonates deeply with them, is going to help them."

But, he said people should get professional help if they find themselves watching pornography while work or study falls by the wayside.

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