'The Demise Of Guys': How Video Games And Porn Are Ruining A Generation

By: Posted By Jovarie Downing
By: Posted By Jovarie Downing

(CNN) -- Is the overuse of video games and pervasiveness of online porn causing the demise of guys?

Increasingly, researchers say yes, as young men become hooked on arousal, sacrificing their schoolwork and relationships in the pursuit of getting a tech-based buzz.

Every compulsive gambler, alcoholic or drug addict will tell you that they want increasingly more of a game or drink or drug in order to get the same quality of buzz.

Video game and porn addictions are different. They are "arousal addictions," where the attraction is in the novelty, the variety or the surprise factor of the content. Sameness is soon habituated; newness heightens excitement. In traditional drug arousal, conversely, addicts want more of the same cocaine or heroin or favorite food.

The consequences could be dramatic: The excessive use of video games and online porn in pursuit of the next thing is creating a generation of risk-averse guys who are unable (and unwilling) to navigate the complexities and risks inherent to real-life relationships, school and employment.

Stories about this degeneration are rampant: In 2005, Seungseob Lee, a South Korean man, went into cardiac arrest after playing "StarCraft" for nearly 50 continuous hours. In 2009, MTV's "True Life" highlighted the story of a man named Adam whose wife kicked him out of their home -- they have four kids together -- because he couldn't stop watching porn.

Dr. Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan are the authors of "The Demise of Guys." Norwegian mass murder suspect Anders Behring Breivik reported during his trial that he prepared his mind and body for his marksman-focused shooting of 77 people by playing "World of Warcraft" for a year and then "Call of Duty" for 16 hours a day.

Research into this area goes back a half-century.

Breivik claims killing was 'necessary' In 1954, researchers Peter Milner and James Olds discovered the pleasure center of the brain. In their experiments, an electrical current was sent to the limbic system of a rat's brain whenever it moved to a certain area of its cage. The limbic sytem is a portion of the brain that controls things like emotion, behavior and memory. The researchers hypothesized that if the stimulation to the limbic system were unpleasant, the rats would stay away from that part of the cage.

Surprisingly, the rats returned to that portion of the cage again and again, despite the sensation.

In later experiments, when they were allowed to push a stimulation lever on their own accord, they self-stimulated hundreds of times per hour. Even when given the option to eat when hungry or to stimulate the pleasure center, the rats chose the stimulation until they were physically exhausted and on the brink of death.

This new kind of human addictive arousal traps users into an expanded present hedonistic time zone. Past and future are distant and remote as the present moment expands to dominate everything. That present scene is totally dynamic, with images changing constantly.

A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that "regular porn users are more likely to report depression and poor physical health than nonusers are. ... The reason is that porn may start a cycle of isolation. ... Porn may become a substitute for healthy face-to-face interactions, social or sexual."

Similarly, video games also go wrong when the person playing them is desensitized to reality and real-life interactions with others.

Violence in video games is often synonymous with success. Children with more of a propensity for aggression are more attracted to violent video media, but violent media, in turn, can also make them more aggressive. This could be related to the fact that most video games reward players for violent acts, often permitting them to move to the next level in a game.

Yet research reported in the Annual Review of Public Health suggests a link between violent video games and real-life aggression: Given the opportunity, both adults and children were more aggressive after playing violent games. And people who identify themselves with violent perpetrators in video games are able to take aggressive action while playing that role, reinforcing aggressive behavior.

Young men -- who play video games and use porn the most -- are being digitally rewired in a totally new way that demands constant stimulation. And those delicate, developing brains are being catered to by video games and porn-on-demand, with a click of the mouse, in endless variety.

Such new brains are also totally out of sync in traditional school classes, which are analog, static and interactively passive. Academics are based on applying past lessons to future problems, on planning, on delaying gratifications, on work coming before play and on long-term goal-setting.

Guys are also totally out of sync in romantic relationships, which tend to build gradually and subtly, and require interaction, sharing, developing trust and suppression of lust at least until "the time is right."

Less extreme cases of arousal addiction may go unnoticed or be diagnosed as an attention or mood disorder. But we are in a national, and perhaps global, Guy Disaster Mode that needs to be noticed and solutions advanced to fix a totally novel phenomenon, which will only increase in intensity and breadth without the concerted efforts of educators, gamemakers, parents, guys and gals.

It's time to press play and get started reversing these trends.

Check out Zimbardo's 2011 TEDTalk on "The Demise of Guys."

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dr. Philip G. Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan.

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Derek Root 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
Video games are fantastic and are doing far more good than bad for society. Yes, there are some crazies out there, but those people existed since the dawn of human history. Gaming does not equate to training kids to become murders.
Why doesn't this guy mention any of the positive aspects of video gaming? Like how the video gaming industry is spurring innovations and advancements in computer power and that medical researchers are using these powerful 'gaming' tools to make life saving discoveries?

Simply put: Gamers are funding electronics and driving their price down. Gamers are making it easier for researchers to access high end hardware for cheap prices!
To all you gamers out there, game for curing disease, game for astrophysics, game for fun. Game for whatever, just keep gaming!

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A Like Reply 18 minutes ago 0 Like F
Randy Garner 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
She is not even really a Psychologist. She is an artist who paints women's orgasms, and glorifies women masturbating. Pot, please meet kettle.

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A Like Reply 38 minutes ago 1 Like F
jellomizer 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
A generation ago there was much the same talk about TV.

Technology isn't the problem. but you need Mom and Dad to tell the kid to get off the computer and play outside.

I think the biggest problem is the notion of Stranger Danger, where parents are afraid to let their kids outside and alone for a while where they are forced to interact with people.

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A Like Reply 1 hour ago 0 Like F
DudeFaceOfAmerica 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
Unfortunately, these days it's not a matter of unjustified paranoia. Stranger Danger is real... and PORN has everything to do with it.

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A Like 1 hour ago in reply to jellomizer 0 Like F
DudeFaceOfAmerica 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
Do we have to imply that porn is as harmful as video games? Video Games are not the games of teenage boys any more, they are just as legitimate a hobby as mountain biking. I agree, that in excess everything is potentially harmful, but giving Video Games and porn a balanced autonomy and paralleled negative emphasis is unfair.

I would say that the problem essentially lies in the lack of parenting, including restrictions and boundaries and even hard measures like total removal of devices. Porn is always going to be a problem, but don't make Video Games a matter of the infamous "falsum in uno, falsum in omnibus".

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A Like Reply 1 hour ago 1 Like F
stnsteal 6 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
I think vidio games are a waste of time and part of the downfall of a generation, but I don't see them as causing people to be violant.

If a mans wife isn't doing her job, what else can a man do..find a girl on the side? Prostitute? Porn?

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A Like Reply 1 hour ago 0 Like F
Anthony Zarat 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
".. Is the man's wife a prost itute, then? Her job lol .."

It is not her job, but it is a fact that every person has a right to meet their needs in their own way. Women have been taught by feminists to expect material or financial reward in exchange for intimacy (of all kinds, including conversation).

Call it what you want. Men are tired of this, and we are finding our solutions in our own way. Our solutions do not depend on women, because women are no longer worth the effort and are no longer worth the risk.

Men and women are genetically equal. The horror of modern Western women is the result of feminist indoctrination and brainwashing. Feminists have convinced half of the human population to expect servitude and adulation from the other half, in return for zero effort and zero support.

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A Like 1 hour ago in reply to stnsteal 6 Likes F
saopaco 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
"
Women have been taught by feminists to expect material or financial reward in exchange for intimacy (of all kinds, including conversation)."

-That would be the direct opposite of feminism. Women wish to be equal to men, not dependent on them. Society may push this, but that is not a goal of feminism.

If you have such a dim view of women, then fine- stay away from them. "
Men and women are genetically equal."

-This is incorrect. if men and women were genetically equal, we would be exact copies of each other. Men and women are distinct from each other. Legal equality is the goal of feminism, not some sort of eugenic equality.

"Feminists have convinced half of the human population to expect servitude and adulation from the other half, in return for zero effort and zero support."-Citation? That is just a bunch of hooey, otherwise.

This part is funny:"I hear that on the far side...

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A Like 55 minutes ago in reply to Anthony Zarat 0 Like F
DudeFaceOfAmerica 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
Tell me what you do as a hobby so I can call it a waste of time. If that's what someone enjoys then it's no different from any other hobby. Do you watch TV? Do you spend time on the Internet (Yes!) then why be so judgmental? To each his own, no?

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A Like 1 hour ago in reply to stnsteal 1 Like F
saopaco 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
Is the man's wife a prost itute, then? Her "job" lol

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A Like 1 hour ago in reply to stnsteal 0 Like F
Amegioa71 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
Whats a man to do? Why nothing evidently... cause women don't like for men to have alternatives.

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A Like 1 hour ago in reply to stnsteal 0 Like F
Amegioa71 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
Ummmm, sorry, don't care, I'm going to continue playing games and what not... I don't care if I'm not living up to your expectations. In fact, I think its kind of funny that 'you' aren't getting from men in general what you want and are afraid of the long term consequences... It only encourages me to engage in more anti social behavior and expend less effort living up to the expectations of women I don't even know.

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A Like Reply 1 hour ago 5 Likes F
Matt Micronaut Ahern 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
this needs to stop.
why are video games used as scapegoats for almost every problem in adolescents. Video games are an art, not mind manipulators. it makes me sick that "experts" still claim video games cause aggression and laziness based on one or two horror stories and false outdated studies and research. Being productive in society is based largely on the persons personality type and upbringing. The video game and movie industry are the only thing holding the economy up. So don't belittle video games to such a position as a societal tumor that needs to be removed.

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A Like Reply 2 hours ago 10 Likes F
Casey Finkenbine 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
The same was said about television and comic books when they first got popular. It'll pass in time.

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A Like 22 minutes ago in reply to Matt Micronaut Ahern 0 Like F
saopaco 12 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
Feminism: the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men. (dictionarydotcom)

For those who confuse feminism with misandry and chauvinism.

Feminists want equality. People who want inequality at the expense of others are not feminists, they are chauvinists.

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A Like Reply 2 hours ago 3 Likes F
Anthony Zarat 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
Give me an example of "The National Organization for Women consistently campaigns against equal rights for men".

There are hundreds of examples. I posted an enormous list of links to discriminatory, sexist policies advocated by NOW, but the list is held up for "approval." Google "glenn sacks now at 40" for one example.

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A Like 2 hours ago in reply to saopaco 0 Like F
saopaco 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
I found this article on NOW's website. "Father's Rights" Groups: Beware Their Real Agenda" It appears to be biased against men. Given that this was only a quick glimpse into their goals, I would agree that they are expressing chauvinism in trying to restrict men's rights.

This would make them chauvinists, not feminists.

This is an important distinction.

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A Like 1 hour ago in reply to Anthony Zarat 1 Like F
Justin Guzman 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
People who want inequality at the expense of others are only chauvinists if they are men wanting inequality at the expense of women, if they are women who want inequality at the expense of men, then they are indeed feminists.

feminism = female chauvinism

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A Like 2 hours ago in reply to saopaco 2 Likes F
saopaco 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
That is incorrect.

chauvinism: the denigration, disparagement, and patronization of either sex based on the belief that one sex is inferior to the other and thus deserving of less than equal treatment or benefit.

works either way, and it is wrong either way. Feminism is not chauvinism.

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A Like 2 hours ago in reply to Justin Guzman 1 Like F
Anthony Zarat 5 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
Feminism is not equality. The National Organization for Women consistently campaigns against equal rights for men in legal issues, family court, law enforcement protection, access to health care, access to retirement, access to homeless shelters, and many other issues.

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A Like 2 hours ago in reply to saopaco 3 Likes F
saopaco 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
Give me an example of "
The National Organization for Women consistently campaigns against equal rights for men"

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A Like 2 hours ago in reply to Anthony Zarat 0 Like F
saopaco 3 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
If that is the case, then they are not feminist.

There is a distinction.

I will take the dictionary's definition over yours. No offense.

What is it that you advocate for?

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A Like 2 hours ago in reply to Anthony Zarat 0 Like F
Anthony Zarat 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
The men's rights movement advocates for:

1) Equal protection under the law for all. This means the word "woman" and "man" should not appear in any legal document (for example, the word "woman" appears 138 times in Obamacare, and the word "man" appears ZERO times in Obamacare). Law enforcement and the judicial system should attempt not to discriminate against people based on gender, etc. Of course, it is impossible to be 100% fair, but when the same crime results in 4.9 times more prison time (on average) for men compared to women, there should be swift and decisive corrective action.

2) Equal protection of government for all. This is all about money. Government should spend approximately the same money on programs and benefits for men, compared to women. Currently, 64% of all federal outlays for programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. go to women. Not fair.

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A Like 2 hours ago in reply to saopaco 2 Likes F
saopaco 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
Then you are expressing feminist goals. It is the same.

If you were advocating greater male rights than female rights, I would call you a chauvinist. Would you classify your current position as that of a male chauvinist?

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A Like 2 hours ago in reply to Anthony Zarat 0 Like F
teepofoulu 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
Feminism doesn't exist. They do not want the downside, they only want the upside.

Noone wants the downsides all they want is the upsides.

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A Like 2 hours ago in reply to saopaco 3 Likes F
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