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The Perils of Internet Pornography by Mitch Ruoff, Psy.D.

May 22, 2013

Some startling statistics:

  • Worldwide revenue from online pornography in 2006 was over $97 Billion
  • Average visitors per month to adult websites:  72 Million
  • More than 70% of men ages 18-34 visit a pornographic website in a typical month
  • Excessive online pornography is a factor in more than half of current divorces
  • Visitors to pornographic websites: 72% men, 28 % women
  • Average age of first Internet exposure to pornography:  11
  • 90% of children ages 8-16 have viewed online pornography (most while doing homework)

Sources: Top Ten Reviews, Fireproof Your Marriage Participants Guide

As startling as these statistics are, there are some who would say that Internet pornography is no worse than its predecessors, print and video media. For several reasons, I disagree. The most obvious reason has to do with increased accessibility. Pornography usage has exploded with online availability. It used to be that someone who wanted to view pornography had to go to the convenience store to buy a magazine or the video rental store to rent a movie. The step of getting into the car to go somewhere is no longer necessary. Instead, you can turn on the television or computer at any hour of the day. The removal of this small step has made it more likely that people will not resist the temptation to use pornography.

The second reason that Internet pornography is worse has to do with anonymity. Lack of anonymity was a major deterrent for many to using pornography. For instance when someone would buy a magazine or rent a movie, they had to face at least one other person who knew exactly what they were doing. Unfortunately, this barrier has now also been removed. The shame or guilt of using pornography is now completely internal. What one does with the television or computer in the privacy of home is completely anonymous. Similarly, the common “stash” of materials has been made obsolete. Now the pornography user can simply delete the history on the screen or turn off the television with little worry about being caught.

The final reason that online pornography is worse is that it has accelerated the normalization of exhibitionism and voyeurism. What I mean by this is that when seemingly everyone is looking at sexual material, it starts to feel like a normal thing to do. Whereas producing pornography used to be confined to those in the x-rated industry, now anyone can post nude pictures of themselves or suggestive videos online. This barrier too has eroded and been washed out to sea. Exhibitionism has become cool instead of disgraceful. Voyeurism has become just another form of entertainment.

So what are we to do? The most obvious answer is to put some of those barriers back in place. Fortunately, there are some things that can be done to reduce the likelihood of pornography use.

Concerning availability, use the parental controls on your remote to ensure that adult channels are blocked. Likewise, get filtering software that blocks adult websites from view. While it may not be perfect, it will make accessing pornography more difficult for anyone using the computer.

Concerning anonymity, keep computers with Internet access in a common space rather than a private room. Limit computer hours if possible so that no one uses it when everyone is asleep or away. Filtering software will also keep a record of sites visited, making for some accountability, and making it less likely that someone will give in to temptation. Check the cable bill periodically to make sure no one has ordered adult movies or shows.

Concerning the normalization issue, seek out a Biblical view of sexuality. Keep in mind that sex is a sacred gift from God. It is to be enjoyed as He intended, not by devaluing others and using them to satisfy our urges. Remember that staying pure will be healthier for you and for your marriage.

Finally, if you have already engaged in compulsive pornography use, get help. This is a real problem that can ruin your marriage and your life. The same Internet that pulled you down can be a useful tool in lifting you up. There are many websites to visit for help with pornography addiction including newlifehabits.com, no-porn.com, sexualrecovery.com, and throughtheflame.org. Therapy may also be a good starting point to recovery. If you want to break free from the power of pornography, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment today.

 

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