Friday, August 24, 2012

Adolescent Online Porn Addiction

Some of the many emails that enter my inbox daily--and some I actually look forward to are from the professional Listserve I belong to through the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine or SAHM.

Today there is a lively and provocative discussion about adolescent pornography access and even addiction to pornography.  It was generated by a first email sent by a professional colleague who wrote of a young man in his early 20's who recently told her "on-line porn is the scourge of my generation of young men."

He described his addiction with online porn and the ensuing isolation and loneliness he felt and the impact it has on his "expectations of relationships."

The professional feedback bemoans the fact that there is really no good research into this growing phenomenon much less sound or tested advice on how to advise parents or patients on this and many of the other issues that arise from "growing up online."  How do we even ask the questions in the right way in order to get at the answers?  What constitutes addiction anyway?  How do we measure that?  What can we do if we uncover it?

There were some answers from the world of research into gaming addiction which is already being considered for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (the bible of psychiatric diagnosis).  Some warning signs might be:

  • Preoccupation with Internet gaming/porn
  • Withdrawal symptoms when Internet is taken away
  • Development of tolerance. This means the need to spend increasing amounts of time engaged in gaming/porn to get the same effect/pleasure
  • Unable to control gaming/porn habits
  • Continued use despite knowledge of negative impact
  • Loss of previous interest in hobbies, entertainment, sports
  • Use of gaming/sports to escape unpleasant moods
  • Deception toward family, therapists and others regarding amount of time spent gaming/on porn sites
  • Loss of job, relationship, career opportunity because of gaming/porn use
The exchange between professionals called for more research among institutions to begin to understand this problem.  The Center on Media and Child Health at the Harvard School of Public Health has begun to collect data and explore positive and negative effects of media on child health.  In addition they maintain a website, AskTheMediatrician which may be helpful if parents are concerned about their child's activities.  It's a place to start taking suspicious behavior seriously and stop looking the other way.
image from www.youthspecialties.com via Google

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Is there a biker in your family?


This image was taken from the Internet;it's not true that I watched from "there"

This weekend my four boys will be riding bikes together in the Pan Mass Challenge or PMC, an event that has happened every summer for the last 32 years across Massachusetts and has raised over $330 million for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.  This year over 5000 cyclists will ride over 200 miles over two days.  It's a joyful occasion for people of all ages, many of them cancer survivors, most of them friends and family of survivors.

As I had breakfast today with my son, Justin, I noticed a new wrist band on his arm.  It's called RoadID and it's ingenious.  Everyone who is a biker, triathlete or otherwise risky athlete should get one.  The band looks like this (and comes in many colors and designs):

and can be purchased in a simple or an interactive version.  For an initial $20 investment and then an annual fee of about $10 the band provides important identifying data but it also gives access to a website or an operator that can retrieve important coded contact information, medical data, medications, allergies, and insurance information that you provide and can update or change online at any time.  

Because I am always worried about head injury in my hard charging children, I am glad that they are using their heads to think ahead.  Should one of them not be able to speak for himself, emergency responders would know whom to contact and have all the information they might need to help give them optimal care.  I think that's technology at it's best.