25 April 2019

Teenage Porn Addiction on the Rise – Will New Age Restrictions to Online Porn Help?

Speaking to the BBC in March 2019, UKAT have shared data about admissions to our treatment centres for teenage porn addiction. Admissions have tripled over the last three years. More and more teenagers need specialist treatment for porn addiction.

In April 2019, the Government announced that new age restrictions to porn websites would come into force on 15th July 2019. As part of the new Digital Economy Act 2017, porn websites will be required to confirm that their users are over 18. They face fines of up to £250,000 or blocks by internet service providers if they don’t comply with the law.

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Many porn websites will use age identification systems, where website users arrive at a non-pornographic landing page. To access online porn, people will need to verify their age using official ID, such as their passport, credit card or driving license.

Porn sites will also be accessible using a voucher called a PortesCard, which will be available to buy in shops and outlets across the country.

Speaking to the Sun newspaper, a spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “This is a world-leading step forward to protect our children from adult content which is currently far too easy to access online.”

Can Age Restrictions to Online Porn Reduce Teenage Porn Addiction?

In this blog, we’ll look at three benefits and five limitations of the new age restrictions for online porn, specifically concerning teenage porn addiction.

3 Ways Age Restrictions to Online Porn Could Reduce Teenage Porn Addiction

1. Fewer children and teenagers will view online porn accidentally

In 2016, researchers from Middlesex University found that 28% of children, aged 11 to 16, first discovered online porn by accident. They found it through pop-up adverts, for example. This compared to 19% who specifically searched for porn online.

The most visited online porn sites offering free content, such as Pornhub and YouPorn, will be age-restricted from July 2019. These sites attract millions of visitors each month across the world. At the moment, there are no legal requirements to ensure that users are over 18. Surveys have shown that children under 16 are regularly accessing content on these popular platforms.

2. The new law might delay the age when children and teenagers first access online porn

Research by Middlesex University found that 53% of 11 to 16-year-olds have seen explicit material online. 28% of 11 to 12-year-olds have seen it. The earlier children and young people view porn regularly; the more likely addictive habits will form.

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As children approach and go through puberty, most will become naturally curious about sex and relationships. By restricting access to online porn, including extreme or hardcore images and videos, it might allow children to benefit from safer sources of information about sex first. When they do get access to porn, it will be in the context of a broader education about sex and relationships.

3. It will be harder for children and young people to share online porn among themselves

Some children and young people first see porn due to peer pressure – friends encourage them to look at the content they have seen, sharing links to sites or videos.

Proof of age will prevent one-click access to adult content, which often leads some young people to repeated use of porn and, consequentially, to addiction.

5 Ways Age Restrictions to Online Porn Won’t Stop Teenage Porn Addiction

1. There are millions of porn websites

Will it be possible for the Government and law enforcement agencies to police the web when countless porn websites are operating from countries across the world?

The most prominent sites may have to comply or face huge fines or blocks – but smaller sites can simply shut down and then reappear if they’re caught breaking the law. Controlling these corrupt practices will be one of the most challenging tasks.

2. The new law doesn’t cover social media sites like Twitter

Children and teenagers will still be able to access pornographic images, gifs and videos shared on social media. There are millions of users publishing X-rated content every day on social media. Sometimes users have to confirm they want to see graphic content, but there are currently no age restrictions in place.

3. Will teenage porn addicts seek out more dangerous online porn?

Critics of the new law say that children and teenagers who already access porn will turn to more dangerous sites. Teenagers could be exposed to websites with even more explicit porn, illegal content (including extreme violence, rape or child abuse images), malware-infected links, illicit or unethical data collection, and sites with dangerous chat rooms or forums.

4. Fake or stolen ID could be used

Just as young people have always tried to buy alcohol while underage, there will be teenagers who try to get around age restrictions using fake or stolen ID. Using a sibling’s ID or even a parent’s credit card details could be the way that teenagers continue to access online porn. This is dangerous because they provide other people’s data without knowing how to confirm the safety of the platforms.

5. There are ways around the age restrictions to online porn

Tech-savvy teenagers will be able to get around the age restrictions using a virtual private network (VPN), which blocks or changes the user’s location. VPNs have been used to bypass site locks event today. With the new Digital Economy Act 2017, websites must find a way to control the access so that they don’t get serious sanctions imposed on their business.

Specialist Treatment for Teenage Porn Addiction

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If you’re addicted to porn and you want help to stop, UKAT offers fast access to addiction treatment. If you’re worried about how much you use porn, the types of porn you’re using, or the effect on your health, please get in touch with UKAT for a confidential porn addiction assessment. You can call us about your addiction or on behalf of a relative.

The UKAT Admissions team all understand the nature of addiction, with many of our specialist advisors in long term addiction recovery themselves. Our aim is always to help you find the right treatment and support, so you can recover and rebuild your life.

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Call Now +44 2039 496 584

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+44 2039 496 584

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If you successfully complete our 90-day inpatient treatment program, we guarantee you'll stay clean and sober, or you can return for a complimentary 30 days of treatment.