Are Porn and Video Games Causing a Masculinity Crisis?

man using laptopMore than 40 years ago, Philip Zimbardo oversaw the Stanford Prison Experiment—one of psychology’s best-known and most controversial studies. Now Zimbardo is interested in the changing face of masculinity. In his new book, Man (Dis)Connected: How Technology Has Sabotaged What it Means to Be Male, and What Can Be Done, Zimbardo chronicles his latest research, which suggests that pornography and video games are increasingly causing men to disconnect from the world around them.

How Porn and Video Games Change Masculinity

Zimbardo’s latest research began with surveys of more than 20,000 men. The questionnaires explored the men’s relationships with porn and video games, as well as their daily lives and social interactions. The results, Zimbardo says, show high rates of addiction to both pornography and video games.

Zimbardo says it’s not the time men spend with porn and video games that matters; it’s how they relate to these sources of stimulation. Men increasingly find themselves eager to return to their virtual worlds when they’re engaging with the real world. For instance, a student might be unable to focus in class because he’s fixated on returning home to play an online role-playing game.

Zimbardo’s research also suggests that excessive time spent online is increasingly seen as normal. He cites one woman who saw no problem with her son spending 15 hours a day playing video games.

Are Porn and Video Games Harming Relationships?

The role that pornography plays in romantic relationships is the subject of much controversy. Some advocates argue that porn supplants real relationships and real intimacy; others say it can improve relationships and educate about sex. Zimbardo suggests that pornography may lead to erectile dysfunction, even in very young men. Pornography is highly stimulating and requires no real effort, the argument goes, so when a man has to fulfill a partner’s needs, the pressure to perform can be too much. Moreover, “real” sex may simply be less stimulating than porn. This theory is a controversial one, though, with some research suggesting there’s no connection between porn and erectile dysfunction.

Zimbardo says negative media portrayals of men, which present them as lazy, sloppy, and incompetent, don’t help matters. He suggests that real intimacy and relationships are keys to preventing a crisis in masculinity. Though much sex education focuses on safety and biology, Zimbardo says one way to address this issue would be to teach adolescent boys about safety, commitment, pleasure, and love.

Zimbardo conducted a TED Talk on the same topic in 2011.

References:

  1. Bolton, D. (2015, May 10). Porn and video game addiction leading to ‘masculinity crisis’, says Stanford psychologist. Retrieved from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/porn-and-video-game-addiction-are-leading-to-masculinity-crisis-says-stanford-prison-experiment-psychologist-10238211.html
  2. Daly, J. (2012, May 23). New TED ebook warns of the demise of guys. Retrieved from http://blog.ted.com/new-ted-ebook-warns-of-the-demise-of-guys/

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  • suzan

    suzan

    May 12th, 2015 at 10:51 AM

    But aren’t these the things that are supposed to make men feel even more manly?

  • Webber

    Webber

    May 12th, 2015 at 4:43 PM

    When you are so busy focusing on this world of non reality where you are in change and you are da man, then it can sort of pale in comparison when you actually have to go back to living in the real world.
    We can’t always be da man in or everyday lives so that’s I think that there are so many men who do retreat into this fantasy world instead.

  • Tim

    Tim

    May 13th, 2015 at 3:19 AM

    Well, given that (1) your life and future can and are commonly destroyed through divorce (2) mass immigration is being used to replace what used to be decently paid labor positions, (3) H1-B Visas are being used to stagnate professional wages, (4) its at least twice as expensive to live as it used to be, (5) if you do get a good job, the government taxes away about half your income and (6) many will have tens upon tens of thousands in student load debt, I say give them their porn and video games. Life sucks enough for them as it is.

  • Carlos

    Carlos

    May 13th, 2015 at 1:51 PM

    But Tim, how is that going to make them any happier? If anything I think that getting lost in that world will make them even more convinced that there is nothing else for them. I think that when you get too wrapped up in that then that is only going to cause you to lose touch with actual people who care about you.

  • Tim

    Tim

    May 13th, 2015 at 4:14 PM

    Oh Carlos. You are tragically naive. I feel deeply, deeply sorry for you.

    If a young man stays single and childless, he avoids asset division, alimony and child support. His future, if he avoids the above, is almost 100% certain to follow his own decisions. If he buys into the socially acceptable life choice of women and children (the gynocentric choice), his future is determined by his wife and children – not by his own decisions. In other words, if a man decides to follow the path of his father, he chooses the pedastalization of women and children over his own life (essentially the denigration of men and himself).

    Society teaches men that they’re worthless if they don’t have (1) a wife and (2) kids. Why?

    Read (1) The Myth of Male Power, (2) The Manipulated Man, and (3) Stand by Your Manhood. After you read these books, our minds will meld and we’ll become the best of life buddies. Trust me. After you read the suggested, we’ll become the best of friends.

  • Matthew

    Matthew

    May 15th, 2015 at 3:43 AM

    For those that are interested, I ran an interview with Zimbardo earlier in the week – it makes for a great read, I think (all down to his answers).
    bibliofreak.net/2015/05/interview-philip-zimbardo.html

  • Fergus M.

    Fergus M.

    August 22nd, 2015 at 2:04 PM

    ” Zimbardo suggests that pornography may lead to erectile dysfunction”. What utter nonsense

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