Our philosophy is that people have freewill but are often lacking important scientific facts or life experience with which to make critical decisions about their online viewing habits, behaviour and wellbeing. This is especially the case with children and adolescents at the start of their journey towards sexual maturity. This is the stage when they are at their most vulnerable to the possibility of developing mental health problems and addictions. Addiction robs us of our freewill by temporarily damaging key brain structures and functionality as long as we remained hooked on a given substance or behaviour. We provide information about the risks to mental and physical health, attainment, criminality and relationships as well as reports on the benefits of quitting porn so that they can make informed decisions. No prior knowledge of science is required.
What we do?
- Free website, regular news articles and updates on Twitter
- Presentations, workshops and seminars on:
- Pornography harm awareness in schools, colleges and universities
- 24-hour screen fasts
- Guidance for parents
- Training for professionals
- Campaign for evidence-based sex and relationship education in schools
All of our work is based the latest developments in neuroscience and social science research. Above all we seek to make it practical in application, fun to learn and inspired by the best practice of clinicians and teachers around the world.
WE DO NOT OFFER THERAPY but we do signpost service providers who do.
Ten years ago after the arrival of broadband, or high speed internet, men started contacting our colleague Gary Wilson in the US about a sudden inability to stop looking at porn. He contributed to a website that explained the science behind sex and addiction. The visitors, many of them early adopters of broadband internet, reported how they had started to lose control of their internet porn watching despite no such problems with erotic DVDs or magazines. It was having a negative effect on their relationships, work and health. ‘Internet’ pornography was somehow different from Playboy and the like.
After investigating it more, Gary set up a new website, www.yourbrainonporn.com, to provide access to the scientific evidence explaining this new development and to stories from people who had experimented with quitting porn. To make his work better known, our CEO, Mary Sharpe, invited him to give a talk at the first-ever TEDx Glasgow in 2012. His informative and funny talk “The Great Porn Experiment” has now had almost 9 million views on YouTube and been translated so far, into 18 languages. It has helped thousands of people recognise that their mental and physical health problems and relationship disappointments may be related to their internet pornography habit. Users are also grateful for the free online recovery resources mentioned there because of the free help available and anonymity provided. Some people need the services of healthcare professionals in addition.
We wanted to be a part of the solution too. To that end, we set up The Reward Foundation charity in 2014. Combined with our own research and extensive teaching materials, we hope to educate the public at large as well as professionals about the impact of the wide-scale availability of internet pornography available on tap 24 hours a day. The aim is not to ban pornography as such but to make people aware of the facts so that they can make ‘informed’ choices about their behaviour and where to get help if needed. Policy makers, parents, teachers and other professionals dealing with adolescents have a particular responsibility in this respect.
The Reward Foundation is Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation SC044948.
Our charitable purposes are:
- To advance education by furthering public understanding of the reward circuitry of the brain and how it interacts with the environment, and
- To improve health by furthering public understanding of building resilience to stress.