Masturbation webcam ATM

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Q: I’m 14 and have had this bad habit for a while now, almost a year; I masturbate on webcam for total strangers. My mom’s caught me before, but that didn’t stop me.

But now it’s taken control of my life. Like last week, on the last day of school, I masturbated in the boys’ locker room. It didn’t bother me that some of the boys took pics of me while I was doing it. And since then I keep thinking about it and want to do it again. All week I’ve been masturbating on my webcam, but it doesn’t feel the same as doing it in front of those boys. I’ve seriously considered going to the park or a bus stop and masturbating there. How do I stop my bad habit, am I too addicted?

~ See Me, USA

A: Dear See,

First, it’s important not to think about masturbation on its own as a ‘bad’ thing. Masturbation is a natural response to your normal sexual drive at 14, meeting your healthy needs in a safe, respectful and self-caring way. However, when you make it a public act, you completely change the purpose and open yourself up to risk.

When you masturbate for others, either on a webcam or in person, you move beyond the act of safely caring for yourself to sending a message to the people watching. Whether intentional or not, your exhibitionism presents you, not as a person, but as the object of viewers’ sexual desire, communicating, “I am available for your sexual gratification”. Because this interaction lacks the mutual caring, understanding and respect that is essential to a healthy and trusting sexual relationship, you are placing yourself at high risk for being hurt emotionally, developing psychological problems, or, if physical relationships develop, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or pregnancy.

You are right to reach out for help with your questions about public masturbation. I recommend that you seek out an adolescent health professional who can help you think through what is motivating you to do a personal and usually private act, in public. At age 14, the part of your brain that governs your ability to monitor and regulate your impulses is still developing, and will continue to develop for more than a decade. You should not feel guilty for your inability to make adult decisions. Instead you just need to understand that you have limited life experience and are not yet able to understand what messages you are communicating to others when you masturbate for them and what the implications of those messages may be.

Seeking professional advice will also help you understand how you feel about yourself and who you feel you are. Often when young people behave in these ways, it is because they do not feel good about themselves, that they are in some way inadequate or unattractive. These negative feelings can lead to exhibiting what they think and fear is the only thing that anyone would want, their sexually willing bodies. Your therapist will help you address negative feelings and grow to understand that you are a unique and authentic person with strengths and qualities who deserves love, respect and healthy relationships.

Enjoy your media and use them wisely,

~ The Mediatrician

 

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2 Responses to “I’m 14 and masturbate on webcam for strangers, how can I stop?”

  1. Allan Foster

    This posting is absurd and shameful. It can’t possibly be genuine, and if it is, it should not have been dealt with online and in the manner in which you replied. A 14 year old girl would not masturbate in a boys locker room and desire to do it again. She would not be caught masturbating by her mother and do it again. She would not consider masturbating at a park or bus stop. This is not a “bad habit.” This is either a pedophile’s pornographic fantasy, or a severely traumatized girl. I lean strongly towards the former. Shame on you, Mediatrician.

    Reply
  2. Dr. Michael Rich

    Shame is what prevents us from talking about these issues, openly, compassionately, and fully informed by the science of child and adolescent development. I thank you for your open and honest response – I suspect others share your concerns and deserve a thoughtful response. Sexuality, especially the exploratory nature of adolescent sexuality, is a “hot button” issue in our society and our natural responses to it range from shock to titillation. To care for our children, both as parents and as a society, it is important for us to confront and deal with our reactions, fairly and honestly, remembering that they are driven by our personal experience, expectations, and values.

    Research* has shown that, due to in part to these preconceptions, most parents are unaware of their children’s sexuality, their media use, and a host of risky behaviors. In the process of growing up, as they follow their normative drive to become adults, young people experiment with music, clothing, and behaviors ranging from drugs to driving to sex – all without the moderating influence of fully developed executive brain functions like impulse control and future thinking. The way they learn what is healthy and safe is by trying and failing, getting hurt, or by asking a trusted adult. When children do reach out to adults with questions, difficult as they may be, it is crucial that we listen with sensitivity and respect, moving past our shame and society’s double standards around issues of sexuality, particularly when it comes to youth. If we do not, young people will feel abandoned, alone and ashamed of their realities, which can contribute to long term mental health issues.

    This question initially came to the Center for Young Women’s Health (CYWH), a service of Boston Children’s Hospital that answers delicate and difficult questions for girls and women who are navigating puberty, adulthood, and societal expectations. While it is always possible that the question is a prank (those who write to both CMCH and CYWH can do so anonymously), the reality is that there are adolescent girls who are struggling with these issues. It doesn’t matter who asked the question or even what their intentions were as long as there are young women confronting similar issues who can be helped by an answer that acknowledges their experiences in a compassionate way and provides them with science-based information and strategies for seeking help.

    We cannot make assumptions about what girls do as they figure out their sexuality, or how they might respond to being caught by their mother or being online. We know that just because a young person is caught drinking or cheating on an exam doesn’t mean that she will never do it again, or if a tween gets in trouble for sexual behaviors, that she will stop her sexual exploration. Instead of reflexively rejecting young people’s experiences as either impossible or wrong, we must deal with them with open minds and open hearts.

    Human sexuality and our understanding of it is evolving. Our expectations of what it means to be a woman, what it means to be a man, what marriage equality is and what gender roles are, affect how we think, act and understand ourselves and each other as sexual beings. This question and its response is a good example of how we can combine science and compassion to provide a caring, comforting source of information and tools for young people who are negotiating not just sex, but many life experiences, for the first time. We cannot let shame get in the way of providing our children with love, support, and honest, respectful and useable information.

    Enjoy your media and use them wisely,
    ~ The Mediatrician

    Research:
    * Correlates and consequences of parent-teen incongruence in reports of teens’ sexual experience: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19431037

    Reply

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