Sex Addiction Claiming More Kids Thanks to Social Media

Teen struggling with sex addiction and social media

It seems that the general public has a hard time believing that sex can become an unhealthy addiction. And because the DSM-V currently doesn’t recognize sex addiction, formally known as Hypersexual Disorder, many therapists refuse to see it as a psychological disorder [1].

However, try telling that to the more than 9 million sufferers of sex addiction in America alone, according to rough statistics given by the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health [2].

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What is Sex Addiction?

You’ve probably read the stories, watched the news and maybe even gone through traumatic experiences yourself; people lose their jobs, marriages, and put their health at risk due to compulsive sexual behavior.

What was once seen as risky conduct dominated by adult men has recently been expanding to include a broader demographic, thanks largely in part to increased awareness and education.

Tami VerHelst, Vice President of the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals, stresses that there are more women, teenagers and senior citizens looking for help for their sexual addictions [2].

VerHelst claims that technology plays a huge role in the problem; children often catch their granddads looking at computer porn, and kids start “sexting” before they are thirteen.

My Own Sex Addiction Recovery

My sex addiction began just before I turned thirteen when the computer was first introduced; my mother sexually abused me and groomed me into creating false identities online with adult men. Because I was developing, it was altogether a confusing, exciting, and sad time.

Social media addiction

For over fourteen years, I struggled with identity issues, pornography, and sexual addictions due to the sexual trauma I endured in my adolescence [3].

Technology can be a wonderful tool for learning, but it can also open the door for maladaptive behaviors to manifest, just like anything else.

Frank Theus, a certified sex addiction therapist and licensed counselor in St. Louis, says that patients who are shown sexually explicit photos and information are, on average, 8 or 9 years old, thanks to social media [4]. Apps and websites make accessing porn and inappropriate material extremely simple, not to mention the low-level content shown in mainstream media.

If something about your child or loved one seems off, pay attention. Holding secrets, moodiness, and withdrawal are signs of addiction, and if behaviors increase this can be maladaptive to their health, mentions Theus [4].

If you are someone you know may be struggling with obsessive sexual behavior, reach out to a professional who specializes in Hypersexual Disorder, or seek out the 12-step group “Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous [5].”

With kids, it’s always better to monitor their technology usage and lock in parental controls on the Internet and social media so that they are more limited with what they can watch, read, and hear.

And remember, when it comes time to getting treatment, there is no shame; the earlier one seeks help, the better the chances are that the behaviors and underlying causes can be treated and stopped.


Nikki_Dubose_2015 Web-6About the Author: Nikki DuBose is a former model turned author, advocate, and ambassador. Her debut memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, details her recovery from trauma, severe mental illnesses and the dark side of the modeling industry. Nikki has been featured on television shows and networks such as The Doctors, The TD Jakes Show, CBS Los Angeles, and the Oprah Winfrey Network, and profiled in publications such as People, LA Times, Vogue UK, Esquire, India Times, and Inquisitr. To find out more about Nikki, visit


[1]: Katehakis, A. (December 21, 2012). Sex Addiction Beyond the DSM-V. Retrieved from
[2]: Lee, C. (November 25, 2011). The Sex Addiction Epidemic. Retrieved from
[3]: DuBose, N. & Johanson, J. (2016). Washed Away: From Darkness to Light. Retrieved from
[4]: Coleman, C. (May 9, 2017). Kids access to porn may lead to sex addiction. Retrieved from
[5]: Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. Retrieved on May 24, 2017, from

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published June 28, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on May 31, 2017.
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About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Addiction Hope in January, 2013, after experiencing years of inquiries for addiction help by visitors to our well regarded sister site, Eating Disorder Hope. Many of the eating disorder sufferers that contact Eating Disorder Hope also had a co-occurring issue of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and process addictions.