Working with people with problematic porn use? Have a look at our new Royal College of General Practitioners-accredited online course

Sexual Dysfunctions and Pornography

More information

 “The computer is 'electronic cocaine' for many people. Our brains are wired for finding immediate reward. With technology, novelty is the reward. You essentially become addicted to novelty.” (Professor of neuroscience, Peter Whybrow, UCLA, 2012).

“Of all internet applications, porn has the most potential to become addictive.” (Meerkerk et al., 2006).

The Reward Foundation is a pioneering relationship and sex education charity. We are a key source of evidence-based information about love relationships and the impact of internet porn on mental and physical health, relationships, attainment and legal risks.

The name comes from the 'reward system' of the brain, the part responsible for motivating behaviour. This system can be hijacked and diverted by artificially strong rewards such as drugs, alcohol, nicotine and the internet, especially porn. Bingeing on these substances and activities can shrink the grey matter in the brain. This in turn makes it difficult to put the brakes on impulsive or risky behaviour and to make good decisions. 

Who needs to know?

Our aim is to help healthcare and other professionals who deal with people with porn-related issues, including guidance teachers and HR professionals, as well as parents, politicians, and pastoral care leaders etc. to access the evidence and support they need to make informed decisions and take appropriate action.

Internet porn is nothing like porn of the past. It's a super-normal or "industrial strength" sexual stimulus. As with cocaine and heroin use, it can lead to compulsive or addictive use in some people. Young people are particularly vulnerable to its effects. They are also the most motivated to use it. Porn can cause sexual dysfunction over time and even lead to criminal behaviour like watching child sexual abuse material or acting out sexual violence.

Learn more from popular Stanford University neuroscience Professor Andrew Huberman about how porn affects the brain. 

We do not offer therapy nor provide legal advice. However, we do signpost routes to recovery for people whose porn use has become problematic.


Download our free lesson plans  on sexting and on internet pornography
at this website and at the Times Educational Supplement.

Age Verification Legislation for Websites and Apps containing Porn

Children make up 20-30% of users on adult Internet pornography sites. This alone should drive governments to implement age verification legislation to restrict access by children to protect their mental and physical health, and social development. Their health and privacy are affected by the absence of rules to protect them.


Years or younger*

Age that 60% of children first see porn



# UK children a month watching pornography



Parents wanting age verification on porn websites


Years old*

Age of some children exposed to hardcore pornography

* British Board of Film Classification

Photography thanks to Christopher Ivanov, Annie Spratt, Matheus, Farias and Nik Shuliahin via