Online Pornography

Good Evening everybody and welcome to In the News.  Glad you could be with us again today.  So I want to talk a little bit about pornography today.  Specifically, online pornography.  You don’t have to worry; it’s not that kind of show.  But I came across a few articles recently that I thought were interesting and thought I would share the findings with you.  They’re about some of the effects that online pornography seems to be having on our society. 

Pornography of course is nothing new.  It’s been around forever.  But in recent decades, the accessibility of it and the mainstreaming of it have really picked up.  There was of course, the era of gentleman’s magazines in the 60’s and 70’s, with titles like Playboy and Penthouse.  Then came the era of video and video cassettes of the 80’s and 90’s.  And now of course we are in the era of online pornography. 

With the accessibility that the internet affords, the spread of pornography that we see in today’s age is really unprecedented.  And it’s not just the fact that it’s so accessible now, it’s that even the hardest of hardcore pornography is so accessible now.  You’re really never more than a few clicks away from the most graphic types of porn you can imagine. 

Now it’s really the last 10 years that internet pornography has become such a big part of the conversation.  The convenience, affordability and anonymity of internet pornography, really contribute to what has been an exponential growth rate. 

There are roughly 4.2 million porn sites on the internet today.  Porn related terms are searched for roughly 68 million times per day.  Forty million Americans are regular porn users.  And it’s become big business.  It’s estimated that internet pornography in the US is almost a $3 billion industry.  And because internet pornography has been with us for a good amount of time now, 10 plus years, there are some effects that are beginning to be seen from its use. 

So what are some of these effects?  Firstly, we’ll take the effect that it’s having on men.  It’s estimated that 70% of men aged 18-34 view online porn at least once a week.  A huge segment of the male population.  Lately there has been a lot of evidence that this much porn usage is having an effect on the men’s minds and the way they view sex.

Porn has become a filter for the way men look at sex with their partners.  There’s been research done that shows that men who view a lot of online pornography sometimes report a decreased desire, and sometimes, an inability to engage in sexual activity with their actual partner.  Many men report finding it difficult to engage in sexual activity with their partner without having to resort to using pornography. 

Many men report an inability to engage in sexual activity with their spouses without their focus and attention drifting to pornographic images.  The association between sex and pornography has become so strong that they find it difficult to focus their attention on their wives without those images seeping into their minds.

Researchers have shown that neurologically speaking, the same brain effects take place when a man watches porn as when they engage in sexual activity with their partner.  And so in essence men can form the same emotional attachment to online pornography as they do to an actual human being.

There has also been evidence that shows that men can become addicted to online porn.  They find that when they use it, they need it more and more often.  When they view it, they need harder and harder kinds of it.  They have problems keeping their usage under control, for example using it when their kids are at home or using it at work.  When they go without it, they show actual signs of withdrawal.  Statistics show that regular users of pornography begin to show greater acceptance of the rape myth.

The spread of porn is also having an effect on women.  Women understand that more and more men view online pornography and view it regularly.  More and more women are feeling like they have to compete with these porn stars that their partners are watching.  They report pressure to recreate what’s being called the PSE or the porn star experience with their partners in order to keep them from resorting to these online videos.

There was a recent study done that showed women who had partners that were heavy users of online pornography have lower self esteem and lower confidence levels.  These women also reported being less happy in the relationship.

But perhaps one of the most pressing issues surrounding online pornography is the fact that children now have greater access to it.  It’s estimated that the average age at which a child first becomes exposed to hardcore pornography is now 11 years old. 11 years old.  They find these sites by accidentally stumbling onto them while browsing the internet.  And they’re also finding them through friends who find these sites and share them with each other. 

Software that blocks adult sites are effective, they’re better than nothing, but they’re not foolproof.  So many new sites sprout up every day that it’s hard for blocking software to keep up with them.  A filtering program called Cybersitter claims to block an estimated 2.5 million adult sites.  But even if that number is accurate it still leaves many millions more sites unblocked.  And filtering software of course doesn’t prevent children from going to a friend’s house and viewing pornography on a computer that doesn’t have filtering software installed. 

What happens to children who have seen these images online?  Research shows that exposure to online pornography changes their attitudes, and changes their behavior.  Most troubling of all research shows these children become sexually active sooner, at a younger age.

Now as far as adults go, I think this issue needs to be explored and needs to be talked about a lot more than it is.  And much more research needs to be done on it so that these effects can be accurately measured.  Most of all it would seem that the evidence we have so far says that this issue needs to be taken much more seriously than it is.  And it shouldn’t be treated lightly.  Not with snickers or laughs as it often is now.

As far as children go, the issue seems to be a little more serious.  It strikes me as weird that if a child went to a movie theater to see even an R rated film, they would be turned away.  And yet with a few clicks of a mouse they can view the hardest pornography there is.  Perhaps a similar rating systems needs to be explored with this issue.  Obviously it’s much harder to enforce and will wind up being a little trickier of an issue.  But if the safety and well being of our children are at stake, serious solutions need to be explored.

If it’s true that online pornography is having some of the negative effects that recent research suggests it does, something needs to be done.  If nothing is done, the effect on the moral fabric of our society will grow more and more negative.

Well that’s our show for tonight, we hope you enjoyed it.  Remember to keep sending in your comments to comments@itnshow.com.  That’s comments@itnshow.com.  Include your name and town and we’ll read your comments on the air.  See you next time everybody.  Good night.