Young people today seem glued to their smartphones. Too much screen time, especially late at night, can cause a variety of problems. Some become simply “wired and tired,” too exhausted to pay attention at school, college or work; others develop mental and physical health problems. For unwary individuals, it can also lead to unexpected visits from the police.

Thirty years on research shows that children today are functioning at cognitive (thinking) levels three years younger than same-age peers did thirty years ago. Other research demonstrates that continued pornography use is ‘causally’ related to children having a higher rate of delay discounting. This means they are less able to delay immediate gratification for a more valuable reward later. Psychologist Roy Baumeister in his book Willpower says that most major problems, personal and social, centre on a failure of self-control.

According to psychiatrist Victoria Dunckley, “Children who are kept relatively screen-free, even in the face of significant learning and mental health issues, eventually outperform brighter children who’ve been exposed to excessive (or even “typical” amounts) of screen time.”

Stanford professor Philip Zimbardo explains ‘arousal addiction’ and declining academic achievements in this talk, “The Demise of Guys”.

Challenges for students at university and college can be even greater once they are outside the family home and free from parental surveillance. High drop-out rates are being reported across the UK and elsewhere. Could this be related to excessive time spent on extracurricular sites?

In this section The Reward Foundation looks at Learning from several different angles to help unpack the role it plays in both creating internet porn addicts and in enabling recovery and rebooting.

Memory and Learning

Sexual conditioning

Internet Pornography and Early Sexual Debut


Internet Addiction

We also provide a range of Resources to support your understanding of these issues.