Our Culture Today: Drowning in Porn

This month’s New York Magazine included several articles under the banner “Drowning in Porn”, examining, in part, the impact the web-porn “tsunami” is having on the pornography industry, adults and children.

As the series explains, the Internet served as “a distribution chute liberating [pornography] from the trench-coat ghetto of brown paper wrappers and seedy adult bookstores, an E-Z Pass to a vast untapped bedroom audience.”  What many of the early pornographers failed to foresee, however, was that the Internet would not only provide new avenues to distribute pay-to-watch content, but that the Internet would lead to an explosion of cyber-porn vendors, user-generated and amateur porn, and free porn sites.  As one pornography industry executive noted, “ten years ago, total daily adult-site traffic averaged less than 1 million unique visitors—on the entire Internet.  Today, [one of the popular user-generated sites] alone gets 42 million unique viewers daily.”

This explosion of users and pornography sites has challenged the profit-making model of most mainstream pornographers, and as author Gail Dines explains in her most recent book “Pornland”, “to differentiate their products in a glutted market, producers have created niche products—like teen sex, torture porn and gonzo—in order to entice a generation of desensitized users… images today have become so extreme that what used to be considered hard-core is now mainstream pornography and acts that are now commonplace in much of online pornography were almost nonexistent a decade ago.”

Of course children today have free and easy access to this content. As one 16 year-old shared in the New York Magazine, “you can learn a lot of things about sex.  You don’t have to use, like, your parents sitting down with you and telling you.  The Internet’s where kids learn it from.”  And while there are many helpful and age-appropriate sex education sites online, for many of our children today, pornography is serving as their sexual mis-education.  A quick look at some of the categories offered by one of the top pornography sites today offers viewers bondage, cumshots, fisting, teen, orgy, shemale, hardcore and triple penetration.  As the girls explained to the New York Magazine, they feel as though pornography has made boys more “inappropriate and perverted”.  When the guys in their class see something on the Internet “they want their girlfriends to do it”, and they believe that the “guys wouldn’t really know about that much stuff if it weren’t for the Internet.”

In our Internet Safety 101SM DVD, many of the teenagers we interviewed expressed that they were having great difficulty bridging the gap between the porn-experience and their real-world sexual experience.  As Justin shared with us, “girls in real life don’t act like the girls in porno”, and “when you get with them, and they don’t act like [porn stars] it makes you feel kind of unmanly… it’s disappointing”.  An all-American teenage girl named Courtney shared “we would watch it together…and then the guys did expect me to act out like that”. (You can see some of this testimony in our “Harms” video on our YouTube channel.)

The New York Magazine series also looked at pornography’s impact on men, highlighting the increasing sense that extensive pornography use may be inhibiting men’s ability to connect sexually with real human beings.  As one lawyer shares, “I used to race home to have sex with my wife, but now, I leave work a half-hour early so I can get home before she does and masturbate to porn.”  As musician John Mayer explained, “you wake up in the morning, open a thumbnail page, and it leads to a Pandora’s box of visuals… there have been days when I saw 300 vaginas before I got out of bed.” And, as a mom we interviewed for our Internet Safety 101SM film shared, she and her husband discovered that in just one night of browsing, their son had visited over 800 pornography sites.

That’s a lot for any adult, needless to say any child, to process. While there is much debate on whether or not pornography is “addictive”, in our line of work, we have heard story after story of kids (and parents) exhibiting addictive patterns of behaviors with online pornography.  Scientists do tend to agree that during an orgasm, a dopamine-oxytocin combination is released in the brain, which behavioral therapist Andrea Kusewski calls “a biochemical love potion”.  As Kusewski explain in the New York Magazine, “it’s the reason after having sex with someone, you’re probably more inclined to form an emotional attachment.  But you don’t have to actually have sex in order to get those neurotransmitters firing.  When you watch porn, you’re bonding with it, and those chemicals make you want to keep coming back to have that feeling, which allows you to not only get off on porn, but to potentially develop a neurological attachment to it.”

I don’t know about you, but I am deeply concerned about the sexual health and wellbeing of our children today.  We are beginning to see the impact on the first generation that grew up with a steady diet of Internet pornography, and for most users, they have been far more likely to engage in risky behaviors, have multiple sexual partners, abuse drugs and cheat on their spouse.  These aren’t things that I want for my children.  In our pornified culture, if parents are not vigilant, it’s highly likely their children’s first sexual experience will occur in the glow of computer screen, devoid of healthy, age-appropriate guidance and true human interaction.  We developed our Internet Safety 101SM program to educate and empower parents to protect their children from online pornography and other dangers—to guide them towards the Internet Safety Rules ‘N Tools® they need to use to keep their children from online harm.  I hope you will consider joining our efforts to protect children online by spreading the word about our program and our prevention efforts.

7 Comments

  1. I am curious – are you familiar with scientific research to backup the harms of porn on children available at http://pornharms.com/
    Morality in Media is a key player too. Perhaps you already partner with them and I just missed that on your site. . . Really glad to have come across your materials!

  2. Adam

    Also curious, how much of the brain science behind addictions in general have you studied? I’ve seen a program at http://candeohealthysexuality.com that relies heavily on the idea that pornography is highly addictive, just like any drug, and that overcoming the chemical reaction to pornography is a key to overcoming any addiction really. Also, thanks for your great work and writings!

  3. sunny

    I am glad some one is thinking about it and can see how dangerous porn is to women’s and young girl’s freedom in the future. Men and women who advocate porn will be asked some serious questions by the children’s of next generation. We had the chance to grow up without it but unfortunately our children don’t. The habits we learn in our childhood stay with us our whole life.

    Thanks

    Sunny

  4. sunny

    I am glad some one is thinking about it and can see how dangerous porn is to women’s and young girl’s freedom in the future. Men and women who advocate porn will be asked some serious questions by the children’s of next generation. We had the chance to grow up without it but unfortunately our children don’t. The habits we learn in our childhood stay with us our whole life.

    Thanks

    Sunny

  5. With the use of the Internet we can be able to have limitless information access. This is one of the reasons why there are people who watch adult/porn videos which needs to be regulated. Discipline needs to be reminded to Internet users.

  6. This is a solid article. I’ve tweeted it and linked to it via vicereport.com, the nation’s largest news site regarding porn and sex compulsion. There is a recent article about the surge in kids using smartphones and what they are looking at. Anyone want to guess? It’s a disturbing trend and I’m not sure of the solution short of government laying the smack down. I oppose censorship but the industry’s failure to police itself is deeply troubling.

  7. The variety and access to pornography will entrap many. It is a difficult idea to grasp or one that is very frightening.

    I hope that those that need help can find it easily and that it is widely available. A place to start a recovery program is at http://www.RAMPout.com

    Thank you for helping educate us to the dangers.

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