Two thirds of young people are addicted to online porn

Two thirds of young people are addicted to online porn

Almost two thirds of young people are now addicted to online pornography, according to a leading mental health and addiction clinic.

Paracelsus Recovery said research on patients referred for treatment suggested that porn addiction is significantly more prevalent than official numbers suggest.

Children are being exposed to online pornography from as young as nine, according to a recent study for the children's commissioner for England.

A quarter of 16 to 21-year-olds first saw pornography on the internet while still at primary school. By the age of 13, 50 per cent had been exposed to it.

But Paracelsus Recovery, which is based in Zurich and London, warned it had seen a 150 per cent increase in the number of people being treated for porn addiction between 2019 and 2023.

Its chief executive Jan Gerber said: 'It is clear from our research that porn addiction is significantly more common than official numbers suggest.

'We estimate that one in two males suffer from problematic porn consumption that would meet the diagnostic criteria for addiction, and one in four females.

'Among under-18s, the levels are higher still, at around 60 per cent.'

The United Kingdom has the second highest incidence of internet pornography searches in the world, with an average of 16,600,000 searches for porn taking place each month. The adult film industry is estimated to be worth more than £15billion a year.

The Government's Online Safety Act, passed last year, will force porn websites to use age verification software to stop access by under-18s. Similar technology is already used by gambling websites.

Ofcom is consultation with the porn industry about how the scheme will be rolled out next year.

One 27-year-old British man treated by Paracelsus Recovery said he became addicted to pornography after he started watching it from the age of 12.

He said: 'I had lost all control over my behaviour. I was sitting in my room smoking weed and watching porn videos from morning to night.

'I had no friends, it had messed up my education, and I felt hopeless.

'I cannot even articulate how disgusting and ashamed I felt, and it's only other individuals who have struggled with a porn addiction who can understand the depths of this despair.'