What is Pornography?
Pornography is defined as "printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings."
Decades ago, pornography was sold in the form of magazines and video tapes in a location one had to physically drive or walk to in order to purchase the desired material. The Internet has revolutionized the pornography industry, making obscene pictures, videos, texts, and sound recordings only a mouse click away.
Concerns for Parents
- Viewing pornography can lead to pornography addiction, which brings on a landslide of dangerous and tragic effects for the addict and his or her loved ones. These effects include (but are not limited to) increased tendency to participate in dangerous or illegal sexual activity, increased attitudes of violence and objectivity towards others, and increased risk of divorce among married couples.
- Some of the pornography available today involves children. Accessing, possessing, manufacturing or distributing child pornography is punishable by federal law.
- Accessing pornography puts your computer at risk for contracting all manner of malware.
How Can I Keep My Child Safe?
- Talk with your kids about what they do online. Be sure they know what is and is not acceptable in your family. However, be sure to let them know that you will not be punishing or judgmental if they come to you with concerns about something they see or do on the Internet. Willingness to talk about the dangers of pornographic material will go a long way in preventing your children from having problems with pornography.
- Keep your computer in an open, trafficked area. Do not allow your kids to have computers (including laptops) in their rooms or in other secluded areas. If your children know that the computer screen is in plain sight, they will be less likely to wander into sketchy areas of the Internet. Privacy only increases temptation.
- Set up appropriate content filters and parental controls. You can outfit your computer with filtering software that will block sexually explicit or otherwise inappropriate Internet material from your child's computer. This will prevent anyone who uses your computer from accidentally or intentionally viewing inappropriate material. Protecting your family from the dangers of pornography doesn't have to be tricky or expensive; many great filters are free. You may also want to consider using accountability software which monitors internet activity and reports to a trusted third party.
- Keep yourself protected from covert pornography. When choosing a content filter or software for blocking Internet pornography, remember that pornography can travel in any medium and through any site, not just websites specifically created for the sharing of pornography. For example, pornography can be found in audio files, picture files, video files and even in text. These files may look innocent or harmless, allowing them to slip into sites that aren't pornographic in nature. To protect against this you may want to select a filtering program that filters content, instead of one that just blocks specific websites.
- Check your browser history. You can open your browser's history and examine which websites have been visited using that browser. Each browser has its own separate history. Some children and teens are clever enough to cover their tracks if they know you wouldn't approve of some of the sites they visit. They know how to erase the browser's history of sites they've visited, or use a different browser that you either don't use or don't know is installed on your computer. Manipulating the history and using other browsers doesn't necessarily mean that your child is up to no good, but it's worth looking into.
- Consider installing a key logger or other monitoring software. If you have reason to suspect that your child is involved with a sexual predator, you can monitor what your child is typing by installing a key logger. A Key logger records each keystroke on your computer and saves it all to a file which you can view later. A key logger can be a program you download or a keyboard adapter plug you physically install. Shop around by searching on the Internet for "key logger" or "monitoring software". There is free monitoring software available, and other packages that can actually record everything that happens on the screen, too (the price range is significantly higher for that one). Remember, this is no substitute for talking with your child about Internet safety or for decreasing risks by other means. Use good judgment and discretion in deciding whether to use monitoring software.
- Remember there are other ways onto the Internet. No matter how well you protect your family computer from harmful influences, kids can get on the Internet anywhere, almost anytime. School and library computers tend to have protection in place, but a friend's family computer might not. Kids can access the Web using iPods, cell phones, and video game consoles like the XBox 360, the Playstation, and the Wii. Be aware of these alternative access points in your home and elsewhere to the extent possible.
- Children are curious and like to get answers to their questions. Teach them appropriate places to obtain information about pornography or sex. The foremost being you as parents. Make sure your children know they can come to you. Also, be proactive and go to them and teach them in a good way about sex and the dangers of pornography. Don't be afraid. Be open and honest with them and the more likely they will be the same with you.
The following statistics are for 2006:
- 12% of total websites are pornographic
- 25% of total searches on search engines are for pornography
- 42.7% of Internet users view pornography
- Every second, 28,258 people are viewing Internet pornography
- Total worldwide revenue for pornography is over $97,000,000,000
These statistics were obtained from FamilySafeMedia.com, which gives recognition to TopTenReviews, Inc.
The following statistics are from Mark B. Kastleman's The Drug of the New Millennium: The Brain Science Behind Internet Pornography Use:
- Sex is the #1 searched-for topic on the Internet
- There are over 4.2 million known separate and distinct porn websites on the Internet, with 2,500 brand new sites coming online every week
- In 2005, worldwide revenue from mobile phone pornography is expected to rise to $1 billion and could grow to three times that number or more within a few years
- More than 20,000 images of child pornography are posted on the Internet every week
- According to a National Children's Homes report, the number of Internet child pornography images has increased 1500% since 1988
Dr. Jill Manning's What's the Big Deal About Pornography? A Guide for the Internet Generation offers the following statistics:
- Of the $97 billion generated in 2006, $13.33 billion was generated in the U.S. What this means is that the pornography industry is now making more revenue than the top technology companies combined, including Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix, and EarthLink.
- In 2002, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers conducted a survey at their annual meeting in which they asked the lawyers about the impact of Internet use on marriages. The survey indicated that 56 percent of the divorce cases these lawyers handled in the previous year involved one of the partners having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.
- Fifty percent of the Fortune 500 companies have dealt with a pornography-related problem in their company within the last year.
Pornography's Affect on Adolescents
An epidemiological study conducted in Sweden compares the attitudes of a sample/representative group to those of frequent pornography users with their attitudes about pornography and sex.
Questions asked in the study:
- I think pornography should be easily available
- 29.3% - Reference Group
- 70.9% - Frequent Pornography Users
- I think pornography should be prohibited by law
- 10.0% - Reference Group
- 5.6% - Frequent Pornography Users
- I believe the availability of pornography should be restricted
- 46.8% - Reference Group
- 30.2% - Frequent Pornography Users
- I believe pornography can stimulate peoples sex lives
- 68.1% - Reference Group
- 84.4% - Frequent Pornography Users
- I think pornography is entertaining
- 37.6% - Reference Group
- 75.9% - Frequent Pornography Users
- I find pornography inspiring
- 37.2% - Reference Group
- 63.8% - Frequent Pornography Users
- I think pornography degrades women
- 28.8% - Reference Group
- 15.2% - Frequent Pornography Users
- I think pornography degrades men
- 11.6% - Reference Group
- 9.6% - Frequent Pornography Users
- Pornography is one of the best remedies for young people to learn something about sex
- 18.1% - Reference Group
- 38.1% - Frequent Pornography Users
The study is one of the first of its kind and concludes that frequent pornography viewing is associated with problematic behavior.
It also found that pornography consumption was greater among those living in the city, consuming more alcohol and of those with greater reported sexual desire.
Source: Sveden, C., Akerman, I., & Priebe, G. (2010). Frequent users of pornography. a population based epidemiological study of swedish male adolescents. Journal of Adolescence, 34(4), 779-788.
Where Can I Learn More?
Click here to read ‘’Internet Porn Can Cripple Your Will Power!” by guest blogger Bernell L. Christensen.
Listen to our podcast with Andrew Brandt here.
Read this compelling article that describes the how and why of pornography's destructive effects on individuals, families, and communities.