Lesson Plans: Internet Pornography

A unique feature of The Reward Foundation lessons is the focus on the workings of the adolescent brain. This best helps pupils understand and build resilience to potential harms from  pornography use. The Reward Foundation has been accredited by the Royal College of General Practitioners in London to teach professional workshops on pornography's impact on mental and physical health.

Our lessons comply with the latest Department of Education's (UK government) “Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education” statutory guidance.

They can be used as stand-alone lessons or in a set of three. Each lesson has a set of PowerPoint slides plus a Teacher’s Guide and, where appropriate, packs and workbook. The lessons come with embedded videos, hotlinks to key research and other resources for further enquiry to make the units accessible, practical and as self-contained as possible.

  1. Pornography on Trial
  2. Love, Pornography & Relationships
  3. Internet Pornography and Mental Health

Lesson 1: Pornography on Trial

Internet pornography is widely used by young people, mainly by boys, but now increasingly by girls.

In this lesson for upper school pupils we put pornography on trial. We ask the question, "Is pornography harmful?" We offer 8 pieces of evidence to help pupils think through the issues, critique the evidence like a jury, and write up their verdict with reasoning included. They'll hear from a neurosurgeon, a young man and a young woman who are recovering porn addicts, a psychologist in the pay of the porn industry, an 'ethical' porn producer, and the World Health Organisation's definition of sexual health.

As background, the World Health Organisation's International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) states that problematic pornography use can be diagnosed as a compulsive sexual behaviour disorder and as an addictive disorder. At the same time,  the pornography industry, like the Tobacco Industry a few decades ago with smoking and lung cancer, pays healthcare professionals to deny there is any link between porn use and a range of health problems. They operate widely on social media and on the internet in general. This leads to a lot of confusion about the actual impact of internet pornography especially on adolescents.

Lesson 2: Love, Pornography & Relationships

How does a person recognise the characteristics and positive aspects of healthy one-to-one intimate relationships?

What impact does a pornography habit have on sexual consent, sexual pressure, coercion, rape, sexual assault and friendship? What are the risks and rewards of pornography use? What are the signs and symptoms of overuse?

The lesson provides a range of strategies to help pupils be all they can be and to develop healthy relationships going forward.

How does a person recognise the characteristics and positive aspects of healthy one-to-one intimate relationships?

What impact does a pornography habit have on sexual consent, sexual pressure, coercion, rape, sexual assault and friendship? What are the risks and rewards of pornography use? What are the signs and symptoms of overuse?

The lesson provides a range of strategies to help pupils be all they can be and to develop healthy relationships going forward.

Lesson 3: Internet Pornography and Mental Health

In the past few years there has been a staggering rise in mental health issues amongst young people. The change in routines as a result of the pandemic has aggravated this trend.

The lesson looks at body confidence and how pornography sites and social media can cause obsessive comparison with others online. It looks too at how internet companies, especially pornography and gaming companies, target vulnerabilities in the adolescent brain to make them habitual users. Pupils discover that free sites are not really free. Internet companies make billions of dollars/pounds from a user's attention, sale of their personal data and preferences for advertising purposes, pages downloaded and sale of related products.

This lesson is aimed at upper school pupils but may be adapted for the lower school. The aim is to enable pupils to recognise what is normal and what is an issue in themselves and others and, when issues arise, know how to seek support as early as possible from appropriate sources.

It offers useful strategies for reducing internet use and for building resilience.

Lesson 4: The Great Porn Experiment

This lesson updates the facts and statistics from the extremely popular TEDx talk, the Great Porn Experiment from 2012. So far the talk has had over 13.5 million views and been translated into 18 languages.

It explains the risks of overindulging in internet porn over time, such as porn-induced erectile dysfunction, and why adolescents take longer to recover their sexual health than older men.

The lesson offers good news with several recovery stories by young people who feel healthier, more energetic, more entrepreneurial and harder working and more successful in attracting mates once they quit porn.

There are helpful resources too to inform pupils should they wish more information.

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