12/05/2015 10:42 BST | Updated 07/10/2015 10:59 BST

Porn And Gaming Is Causing A 'Crisis Of Masculinity', Says Psychologist - But Not Everyone Agrees

A leading psychologist has warned that young men are facing a "crisis of masculinity" due to an increased use of video games and pornography, but not everyone is as convinced.

In an interview on BBC World Service's Weekend programme, Philip Zimbardo of Stanford University - who created the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment - said both porn and gaming lead to social isolation and can become addictive.

Dr Zimbardo was speaking after conducting a study of 20,000 young men and their relationships with video games and pornography as part of his new book, titled Man (Dis)Connected: How Technology Has Sabotaged What it Means to be Male, and What Can be Done.

"Our focus is on young men who play video games to excess and do it in social isolation - they are alone in their room," he said.

"Now, with freely available pornography, which is unique in history, they are combining playing video games and as a break, watching on average two hours of pornography a week."

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This isn't the first time Dr Zimbardo has suggested porn and video games have a detrimental effect on young men.

In a HuffPost Books blog titled Why Society Is Failing Young Boys, co-written with artist Nikita Duncan, he said men are becoming increasingly confused about what constitutes acceptable male behaviour.

"They don't recognise the images presented in video games, movies, television and porn as caricatures," he added.

But not everyone is as concerned by generation Y's porn and gaming habits as Dr Zimbardo.

“There is a familiar moral panic about young men in the work of Dr Zimbardo, focusing on how online pornography is warping them psychologically. And every single era believes there is a 'crisis of masculinity'," Professor Damien Ridge, professor of health studies at the University of Westminster tells HuffPost UK Lifestyle.

"But the evidence for porn warping male brains is weak."


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Writing for The Guardian, Keith Stuart also contests Zimbardo's claims, by suggesting that gaming no longer causes social isolation.

"The cliche of the teenage boy hunched alone over a console, competing in solitude against computer foes, is outdated," he says.

"The rise of broadband connectivity has engendered a new culture of shared experiences and co-operative play. These days, a game lives and dies by its ability to attract and maintain a talkative and engaged community.

"The whole meaning and purpose of video games has shifted: for many players, they have become venues for social interaction rather than solitary confinement."

Are you concerned about the impact pornography and video games have on young men? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @HuffPoLifestyle

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