Fatherly

How To Measure Your Kid’s (And Your Own) Porn Addiction

Unless you raise your kids in a bunker without wi-fi, they’re eventually going to come across online pornography. Look, it’s not a bad thing. As kids wobble and fall backwards into adolescence, interest in sex is healthy—and with smartphones and laptops now the property of every 12-year-old, humiliating search histories are de rigueur. But there’s a line between healthy exploration and addiction. And both kids and adults are prone to tripping over it. If your preteen spends hours each day locked in his or her room (or you do), it might be the beginning of a struggle with compulsive tendencies. But how to know when to knock gently and when to break down the door?

READ MORE: The Fatherly Guide to Porn

Fortunately, a new study in the Journal of Sex Research describes a simple test that can help anyone figure out if their online pornography use is healthy or on the verge of pathological. They tested their model on 390 women and 382 men, and found that 3.6 percent were “at risk.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Meet The “Problematic Pornography Consumption Scale”

Yes, that’s actually what they call it (PPCS, for short). Answer the following questions with never (1), rarely (2), occasionally (3), sometimes (4), often (5), very often (6), all the time (7). A total score greater than 76 suggests a problematic level of pornography consumption.

  1. I felt that porn is an important part of my life
  2. I used porn to restore the tranquillity of my feelings
  3. I felt porn caused problems in my sexual life
  4. I felt that I had to watch more and more porn for satisfaction
  5. I unsuccessfully tried to reduce the amount of porn I watch
  6. I became stressed when something prevented me from watching porn
  7. I thought about how good it would be to watch porn
  8. Watching porn got rid of my negative feelings
  9. Watching porn prevented me from bringing out the best in me
  10. I felt that I needed more and more porn in order to satisfy my needs
  11. When I vowed not to watch porn anymore, I could only do it for a short period of time
  12. I became agitated when I was unable to watch porn
  13. I continually planned when to watch porn
  14. I released my tension by watching porn
  15. I neglected other leisure activities as a result of watching porn
  16. I gradually watched more ‘extreme’ porn, because the porn I watched before was less satisfying
  17. I resisted watching porn for only a little while before I relapsed
  18. I missed porn greatly when I didn’t watch it for a while

Um, My Score Is Greater Than 76…Don’t Tell My Wife?

First of all, any psychological test conducted outside of a clinically controlled setting (or with one tab on your internet browser open to Fatherly and the other to porn) is bound to be unreliable. Before you panic about your score, there’s a more basic guideline for problematic porn use to consider—does it adversely affect your life? If everything is going just fine, and your kid is performing well socially and academically, it’s hard to make the claim that even a very high score is worth losing sleep over. As long as the porn is legal, you do you.

But if you already sense that you or a loved one may be suffering from problematic porn consumption, a score greater than 76 can help confirm your suspicions. It may be time to seek professional help, or at least ask a doctor about your options. If that’s too awkward, visiting a psychologist to discuss your situation (and check your self-diagnosis) may be the right move.

Can Porn Addiction Be Cured?

That’s a tricky question. From a psychological perspective, porn addiction doesn’t officially exist. The most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which classifies mental disorders for experts in the US, opted out of recognizing hypersexual disorder in 2013, instead listing it along with a battery of conditions requiring “further study”. So there’s no formal way to diagnose or treat porn addiction in the US, and there won’t be until the next DSM update.

In the meantime, there are mental health experts who have dedicated their careers to helping people work through their hypersexual tendencies. Some even focus on porn addiction. If you’re concerned about your porn habits—or your child’s perpetually locked door—talk to your doctor.