A new report from the Family Stability Network in the UK has revealed that – as the first digital generation enters adulthood – a large proportion of young men are desperately lonely and deeply worried that they will never end up in a loving relationship.
The chief culprit? Pornography.
The report surveyed men aged 16-19 and found that, although the majority of these young men held conventional expectations for their lives – with 93 per cent hoping to marry at some point and 86 per cent hoping to have children – these hopes remained distant and clouded in doubt for a large chunk.
A full 64 per cent of young men report being worried about being alone, 55 per cent worry they’ll be laughed at if they’re open about how they feel and a staggering 47 per cent feel lonely a lot of the time.
According to the report online pornography is rife among young men and wreaking havoc with their perceptions of sex and understanding of relationships.
Sixty-three per cent of the young men surveyed admitted they watched porn at least once a week, 28% watch it five times or more per week, while close to half of the young men are worried they watched too much porn.
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While the report only surveyed young men in the UK, there’s no doubt similar fears and doubts plague young Australian men, too. According to the ABS, 29 per cent of young Australians aged 18-34 are now single, up from 21 per cent in 1976, while suicide rates among young men aged 15-24 are at their highest rate in 10 years.
According to Catherine Barker, one of the researchers at the Family Stability Network, the chief problem for young people is that they struggle to find good advice about relationships and so turn to porn instead.
“Eight out of ten young men would welcome better advice about their relationship problems,” she says, “but they often rely on porn and the advice of friends to guide their expectations of relationships. We can’t bury our heads in the sand about the realities of the digital world we live in.”
So how do we tackle the problem? The report recommends that parents and adults need to model happy, functioning relationships and talk to young men about the impact porn can have on a relationship.
Without condemning or accepting the proliferation of porn, the report suggests talking openly with young men about the false reality and inflated expectations of porn.
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