No. 14 Autumn 2021

Greetings, everyone. As we soak up the last warm rays of sunshine before the misty chill of autumn descends, here is some heartening news about what is happening in the field of sex, love and the internet.

At TRF we have been busy these past few months. You can read about our new research paper on sexual violence. It offers recommendations for some new government policies to tackle the situation. We have a recent study on porn-induced sexual dysfunction in young men with a quiz to help users see if they need help. We have some disturbing results from a new Finnish survey on porn use among the very young. Over the summer The Reward Foundation team has been focusing on schools; preparing for conference season and sharpening up our social media profile. In this edition we have a bonus guest blog too, from online child safety expert, John Carr OBE, about Apple’s new initiative to identify and contain child sexual abuse material.

Mary Sharpe, CEO

Rewarding News new TRF Research

Hot off the press! New research by The Reward Foundation

See the new peer-reviewed paper by The Reward Foundation, entitled “Problematic Pornography Use: Legal and Health Policy Considerations” in the journal Current Addiction Reports.  To read the abstract see here. To read and share the full paper use this link

Our CEO Mary Sharpe and our Chair Dr Darryl Mead will each be giving a talk on it at the Canadian virtual summit Connect to Protect in mid-October. See item 6 below for more information.

In case governments and families weren’t aware of the risks to children of easy access to pornography, a new survey from Finland spells it out. With over 10,000 respondents the survey reveals at how young an age children are being exposed to porn. A key finding was that 70% said they first saw child sexual abuse material when they were under 18. Of those, 40% said they were under 13 when first exposed to illegal images of children.

More than 50% of those who admitted to watching online child abuse said they were not seeking these images out when they were first exposed to illegal material.

When asked what sort of material they looked for, 45% said it was girls between the ages of four and 13, while only 18% said they looked at boys. The others said they watched “sadistic and violent” material or images of toddlers. This is why school lessons about pornography use and age verification measures are so necessary. 

These issues are what governments around the world need to be aware of to help deal with the increasing health problems, sexual violence and legal costs related to problematic pornography use. There are solutions. Let’s encourage our governments to use them. You can contact your Member of Parliament to encourage them to act on this.

Rewarding News offline sexual dysfunction

Is online pornography consumption linked to offline sexual dysfunction in young men?

Key findings of this important new study:

  • The younger the age of first exposure the higher severity of porn addiction
  • Study found participants felt a need to escalate into more extreme material:

“21.6% of our participants indicated a need to watch an increasing amount or increasingly extreme pornography to achieve the same level of arousal.”

  • Higher porn addiction scores were correlated with erectile dysfunction
  • Evidence points to porn being main cause, not merely masturbation

A porn user doesn’t have to be addicted or even using pornography compulsively to develop a sexual dysfunction; sexual conditioning is enough. The mental distress it can cause is enormous and often leads to problems with partnered sex. If you know of anybody who may be concerned about their porn use and a sexual dysfunction, here is a quiz they can take to find out more.

Rewarding news Back to school

Back to School News

Our lesson plans have been accepted by the Scottish Government’s unit responsible for the provision of teaching on Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood as an extra resource in schools. See here for our set of 7 lesson plans. They are available for Scotland, England and Wales. We have an American version and international set too. However, they do not include the lesson on ‘sexting and the law’ as the law varies so much from country to country.

In May and June our CEO Mary Sharpe taught about internet pornography and sexting in two independent schools over a 4-week period, one series was delivered in person, the other online. In October we are speaking at a Parents’ Pastoral Day in a boys’ school near London. We have delivered talks there several times before.

Gina Kaye Rewarding News

We are delighted to announce that in addition to Twitter, we have added more social media sources to keep you informed about developments in this field and to help you share: Facebook; Instagram, YouTube, Reddit and TikTok. This latter one is the most popular by far with teenagers.

However, people of all ages need to be aware of the issues surrounding pornography and relationships. For instance, we have 3 short videos taken from a longer interview with a woman who discovered her husband was a porn addict and what impact that had on her family as a result. There is another one with a young man telling us of the effects of his and his friends’ exposure to pornography under 10 years of age. It links up with the Finnish review we refer to above. There are lots more short videos to come. See here for more details about these videos on our YouTube channel.

Please follow us on any and all of these outlets if you want to keep up with our regular output and to boost our presence online:

On the subject of social media, we’d also like to inform you of a great new app that helps users quit porn. It’s available at whose chief Jack Jenkins interviewed us in June about our work. We do not receive any financial kickback from this app. We just mention it because we believe it is a good product.


Culture Reframed virtual conference 2-3 October 2021. The Reward Foundation is one of the sponsors of this event. There are speakers from around the world. Register here.

Rewarding News Connecting to Protect

Stronger Together Global Virtual SummitProtecting Children from Online Pornography by Inviting a Public Health Response. See more on this Connect to Protect Global Virtual Summit 13-15 October 2021. TRF will be presenting two papers at this summit (click here for registration): the first one is by Dr Darryl Mead on international progress towards age verification legislation in 16 countries; and the second one, on their new research paper mentioned in item 1 above, is by Mary Sharpe. Both of these talks will be available on our YouTube channel in the coming weeks. Or you can listen to them ‘live’ at the Summit.

ECPAT Apple Rewarding News

Strong Support for Apple’s Breakthrough Initiative re Child Sexual Abuse Material

We are delighted to republish here an excellent new blog by online child safety expert John Carr OBE about the Apple initiative to make finding child sexual abuse material (CSAM) easier to locate and take down. Here is an earlier one he did on the same subject.

All the best till the next time. If you have any rewarding news worth sharing, please let us know. We’d be happy to write about subjects you regard as important on the themes of love, sex and the internet.