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Young-man-using-computerPsychologist Philip Zimbardo asks, “Why are boys struggling?” He shares some stats (lower graduation rates, greater worries about intimacy and relationships) and the reasons behind them, while challenging the TED community to think about solutions.

In less than five minutes Professor Zimbardo of Stanford manages to alarm his TED Talks audience to “the demise of guys,” (credit for the title of this post is clearly his). Here are a few facts about gender, school drop-out rates, and arousal addictions:

  • Boys are twice as likely to drop out of school
  • Before age 16, more boys than girls drop out, but they drop out in equal rates after age 16
  • Boys are 30% more likely to drop out

By the time a young man is 21, he will have spent 10,000 hours (on average) playing video games, the majority of that time in isolation. Does this statistic surprise you? Why or why not?

In relation to Porn – how is an “arousal addiction” different from a drug addiction?

  • A drug addict is more prone to relapse after rehab
  • Trick question, TED! They affect the brain in exactly the same ways
  • Drug addiction is gender-neutral, but arousal addiction has been mainly a Caucasian male phenomenon
  • Drug addicts seek more and more of the same, but arousal addicts require novelty

I remember taking addiction awareness training in which a young female addict openly shared how her new gambling addiction was “exactly” the same as her previous cocaine addiction. She candidly spoke about her other addictions (smoking, relationships, etc) as if she was hooked no matter what direction she took.

The Heart’s Desire (written by James M. Houston):

One thing Augustine believed with certainty was that if God is not the centre of our desires, then they run amok in all directions, as passions and sensual pleasures, to debase and imprison us in futility and despair…

Addiction means being so completely possessed that one is enslaved, deprived of inner freedom, and ultimately of personal integrity.  It is the ghastly process of ‘losing one’s soul’.

There does not appear to be a neutral space for addiction; those who have either struggled with addiction, or with an addicted loved one knows this deeply.  I am reminded of something the 17th Century Puritan, John Owen wrote in his classic: Sin & Temptation:

When Christ comes with His spiritual power upon the soul to conquer it to Himself, He hath no quiet landing place. He can set foot upon no ground but what He must fight for.

In this time of no quiet landing place, the spiritual battle occurs on all fronts, including the mind:

Being Digitally Rewired:

According to Zimbardo, some children’s brains are being “digitally rewired” because they’re spending too much time with video games and the Internet. This rewiring makes it difficult for these children to:

  • Succeed in traditional classrooms
  • Become skilled conversationalists
  • Enjoy significant, sustained relationships

Who should care about this issue?

It was a shock earlier this year to hear comedian Russell Brand comment on Pornography. A shock because the person raising the alarm comes from the very entertainment industry that gives rise to so much porn.

Where can you Start?

“Fight the New Drug.Org” encourages, Get Help. Don’t fight this alone. Surely aloneness is one of the contributing factors to this in the first place. And this loneliness is exacerbated by how “Porn Hates Families.”


Research has found that marriages in which one person has a porn problem or sexual compulsion are often plagued by less intimacy and sensitivity, as well as more anxiety, secrecy, isolation, and dysfunction in the relationship. And since many porn users end up losing their jobs as a result of looking at porn on a company computer, these marriages often end up with less financial security as well.

It was G.K. Chesterton who said, “Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.” Curious, isn’t it? Something about that “enigma” thing (see “Looking for a Cosmic Mystery“).

For more, see Mark Clark’s Unfinished Men