Little baby boys "play with themselves" instinctively, just like they suck their toes. Go to change their diapers, they make a grab for their penis and hang on for dear life. It is not dirty, it is not sexual, it just feels good, it is comforting, reassuring, all is well with the world.
Pretty soon, little boys are getting messages from their parents: "Don't do that, you'll hurt yourself, you'll get an infection, you'll go blind, you'll be crazy, you'll wear it out, it will fall off, you'll turn 'queer' or you will reduce your sperm count so you will be 'shooting blanks'."
Some parents are afraid their little guy will become addicted to sex and others believe it is sinful. Most little boys masturbate in spite of parental injunctions. Psychologists are convinced that these ideas instill fear, guilt and shame into a harmless activity.
Defined as autoeroticism, masturbation is self-pleasuring to the point of orgasm/ejaculation. Although males may employ a vibrator or butt plug, most masturbation is manual stimulation in conjunction with a sexual fantasy. It is impossible to masturbate without fantasy.
Until a male has gone through puberty, he will not ejaculate when he masturbates, but about age 12-14, he will discover that he can "shoot" or "cum". For guys, this is the symbol of manhood, equivalent to a girl's first menstrual period.
Most teenage males will masturbate about once a day, some much more than others. There is no "normal" - it varies with surrounding stimulation, stress of exams, boredom, amount of sex with a partner, and individual sex drive and desire plus the opportunity. Guys worry, "How much is too much?" Don't worry. You will not hurt yourself, you are not a pervert. Your body will dictate and eventually your brain will be willing but the body weak.
By the time a male is in his 20's, he will be an expert on his own sexual responses - he will know what works for him, he has developed a repertoire of effective sexual fantasies, how to grip his penis, how much pressure and lubrication, he will become aware of the pre-ejaculatory sensations.
Many males are convinced that once you get into a relationship with a partner, you will not practice solitary masturbation anymore. This is terribly wrong. If his partner is ill, absent, pregnant or just does not have as high a sex drive as he does, he will masturbate in addition to his partner sex.
Interesting research by Masters and Johnson way back in the 1980's - they found that the level of sexual arousal, sexual excitement was higher with solitary masturbation than it was with sexual intercourse with a partner. When you are all by yourself, you can flip into a guilt free sexual fantasy, do what you want when you want, how you want. You don't have to worry about pleasing your partner, hurting your partner, worrying about birth control or diseases or parents, you don't have to hurry up or wait for partner, you are on you own. What is missing with solitary masturbation is the loving, the hugging the kissing and caressing and the relationship connection.
There is a common quote: 99% of males masturbate regularly and the other 1% are liars. Now, I don't believe that line. There are some guys, brought up in some families, cultures or religions, that have been taught that masturbation is morally wrong, it is a sin. So they may try it once, didn't enjoy it, felt guilty, and ashamed and may never do it again, and that's ok too. He will have a whole lot of wet dreams and be just fine.
What is interesting is the general acceptance that masturbation is normal, natural and healthy, and that both males AND females can do it very well….thank you.