Pornography is the most popular type of content available online. Every single second, 372 internet users type pornographic search terms into various search engines.
With the internet being so prevalent and widely available all over the world, it has made viewing pornography much easier than in the past.
About 12% of the internet is pornographic websites and about 42% of internet users view porn. The largest sections of people that view these pornographic sites are men in the ages 35 to 49.
Perhaps nothing in the mental health world has been more hotly contested than the extent of pornography’s addictiveness. Addiction is a term often bandied about rather carelessly, as we often label too much of anything an addiction.
Medically, a substance is addictive if and only if an addict experiences both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms when the substance is no longer available.
Another component of addiction is the desire for more and more of the substance to achieve the same “high.” While many users of pornography have experienced symptoms that would classify pornography as an addiction, there’s still no substantiated proof that porn addiction actual exists.
Porn Addiction…or Desensitization?
This does not mean, however, that the proliferation of Internet pornography isn’t dangerous. For parents, Internet pornography can be especially troubling, as we worry that our children will be exposed to the sometimes violent and often unsavory world of porn, or that our children may inadvertently fall into the hands of sexual predators.
As someone who has studied the psychological and sociological facets of Internet pornography as a growing phenomenon, I can say that it is not really helpful to view pornography as an addiction. While there are extreme cases of individuals whose lives are severely compromised by watching pornography excessively, these are few and far between.
A more common concern of pornography is the way that it often desensitizes viewers to the “real” act. A healthy sexuality, one that includes an emotionally supportive relationship at its center, is part and parcel of every adult’s overall well-being.
When pornography is consumed to the point of desensitization, to the point that actual intercourse with a partner is no longer enough to arouse an otherwise healthy individual, pornography becomes a dead-end escape and an ultimately far less rewarding substitution for interpersonal relationships.
If you are a parent and want to avoid having your children exposed to such content then there are numerous things that you can do. More and more younger people are becoming, often accidentally, exposed to pornography as a large percentage of young people are very internet savvy. To avoid having this type of exposure, you can install software that will block all the pornographic websites and only allow the appropriate websites to be viewed. Another thing that you can do is to set your internet setting to a high security. This will lower the amount of potential adult pop ups that pornographic sites use to entice people to visit their sites.
- “Some are said to be worried about becoming addicted to porn. The number of calls is up 34 percent over a year, leading to renewed fears about the safety of children online.
- Last night, ChildLine founder Esther Rantzen said hardcore adult videos were ‘warping’ children’s understanding of what normal sex is, persuading them to copy behavior which is disturbing, even dangerous.
- Girls have called the helpline to report that they are being pressured, coerced or even forced into mimicking adult videos.” Read more
How do I protect my teen from Internet pornography?
Sit down and talk to your children to make sure they know what they are allowed to look at and what they are not. It may not be the most comfortable conversation to have but, as a parent, it is your job to be the one to tell them what is appropriate.
As a parent, it’s difficult to protect your children from all of life’s harms, but there are definitely ways in which you can prevent your child from becoming a victim of the Internet porn industry. One of the best preventative steps is simply not allowing your child access to a computer or Internet-enabled device in a private setting. Computers in their bedrooms should be a definite no-no. Any Internet that your child accesses at home should be in a very public room, like the family living room.
Of course, you can’t look over your child’s shoulder at all times, it just isn't feasible, and it’s likely that at some point or another, whether at a friend’s house or elsewhere, your child will access pornography. The best way to ensure that pornography doesn't become an issue at all is if you talk to your child, as uncomfortable as it may seem. Present him or her, the facts about healthy sex and Internet pornography. Explain to them that Internet pornography is not real sex; rather, it can destroy the enjoyment of healthy sex later in life.
I think another important thing to note, for both young children and adults alike, is that pornography, though we know it’s all fantasy, actually involves real men and women who are horrifically abused and exploited.