How Harmful Is Pornography?
We have all heard about the destructive power of drug addictions and even food addictions and obesity, but rarely do we hear or talk about the largest addiction problem the world faces: Pornography.
The destructive force of pornography is something that seems to be a taboo subject in our culture. We can look at statistics and discover why the people profiting from it want to keep it under wraps… but why does society in general? Why is there this notion that there is nothing wrong with Pornography? Or that “everyone” is looking at it, so what’s the big deal?
In this article, I want to explore the devastating effects you may have never considered about Pornography and Porn Addiction, then I hope to offer some solutions and resources for those who struggle with it daily.
Before we get started take a look at some numbers collected by Brigham Young University:
- GENERAL PORNOGRAPHY STATISTICS:
- Size of the Industry $57.0 billion world-wide – $12.0 billion US
- Adult Videos $20.0 billion
- Escort Services $11.0 billion
- Magazines $ 7.5 billion
- Sex Clubs $ 5.0 billion
- Phone Sex $ 4.5 billion
- Cable & Pay Per View $ 2.5 billion
- Internet $ 2.5 billion
- CD-Rom $ 1.5 billion
- Novelties $ 1.0 billion
- Other $ 1.5 billion
- Porn revenue is larger than all combined revenues of all professional football, baseball and basketball franchises.
- US porn revenue exceeds the combined revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC (6.2 billion)
- Child pornography generates $3 billion annually
- INTERNET PORN STATISTICS:
- Pornographic websites 4.2 million (12% of total websites)
- Pornographic pages 372 million
- Daily pornographic search engine requests 68 million (25% of total search engine requests)
- Daily pornographic emails 2.5 billion (8% of total emails)
- Average daily pornographic emails/user 4.5 per Internet user
- Monthly Pornographic downloads (Peer-to-peer) 1.5 billion (35% of all downloads)
- Daily Gnutella “child pornography” requests 116 thousand
- Websites offering illegal child pornography 100 thousand
- Sexual solicitations of youth made in chat rooms 89%
- Youths who received sexual solicitation 20%
- Worldwide visitors to pornographic web sites 72 million annually
- CHILDREN’S EXPOSURE TO PORNOGRAPHY:
- Average age of first Internet exposure to pornography 11 years old
- Largest consumer of Internet pornography 12-17 age group
- 15-17 year olds having multiple hard-core exposures 80%
- 8-16 year olds having viewed porn online 90% (most while doing homework)
- 7-17 year olds who would freely give out home address 29%
- 7-17 year olds who would freely give out email address 14%
- Children’s characters linked to thousands of porn links 26 (including Pokeman and Action Man)
It is my hope that after you read these statistics your eyes are opened to the massive problem we are facing. These statistics do not even begin to uncover all of the damage done to families across the world, relationships, and individuals being exploited within the industry itself.
Because of the rampant explosion and accessbility of online porn, there have not been many studies of the overall effects, but all of the studies that have been done show pornography to be highly addictive, in a very real and chemical way.
According to WebMD:
In November 2004, a panel of experts testified before a Senate subcommittee that a product which millions of Americans consume is dangerously addictive. They were talking about pornography.The effects of porn on the brain were called “toxic” and compared to cocaine. One psychologist claimed “prolonged exposure to pornography stimulates a preference for depictions of group sex, sadomasochistic practices, and sexual contact with animals.”
And Psychology Today:
In a 2004 testimony before the United States Senate, Dr. Jill Manning shared some interesting data regarding pornography and relationships. In her research she found that 56 percent of divorce cases involved one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.
Every year for the past decade there have been roughly 1 million divorces in the United States. If half of the people divorcing claim pornography as the culprit, that means there are 500,000 marriages annually that are failing due to pornography.
As a man who struggled with pornography addiction for years, I can tell you it is VERY real. In fact, to this day I still have to be on guard every single day and take measures to avoid and control urges when they arise. There is a fantastic book on this subject called “Every Man’s Battle” by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker. It is written from a Christian perspective and offers great advice for ALL men on how to avoid sexual temptation. It comes with my highest recommendation, I have read the book and use the tools inside in my daily walk with Christ and believe in what it teaches.
Now, let’s take a moment and discuss how men and women differ when it comes to pornography and sexual tempation. Men are wired differently than women. Men are very visual creatures, meaning the simplest and most innocent of images can trigger sexual temptation. Not always but certainly sometimes and you never know when it’s going to happen. Your husband, or boyfriend could be innocently reading his Facebook news feed one moment, catch an image of one of his “Facebook friends” in a skimpy bathing suit and BOOM just like that, a switch is thrown in his body, chemical processes start to take place and urges begin to well up. The next thing you know he is visiting one of his favorite free porn sites he has visited a thousand times before. Women however get more stimulation from erotic fantasy… meaning they would rather read a story then look at an x-rated photo. If they watch pornography they usually prefer story-driven films as opposed to just sex scenes.
Men and women BOTH have problems with Pornography addictions, and obviously it is much more prevalent in men. What might actually shock you however, is the fact that women are much more inclined to ACT OUT sexually as a result of viewing porn. By act out, I mean outside of the relationship she is in. Why is this?
Well the data as to the cause is still out, but remember men are visual and women are more about the “fantasy”. Go to the bookstore and you will find hundreds of “Romance” Novels on the shelves, do you think men are buying those? And don’t you find it interesting that these romance novels almost always involve a woman meeting a stranger in an exotic location and having a sexual encounter outside of her marriage? It seems obvious to me, that if a man watches a random sex video of a strange woman he has never met, then a woman reads an erotic story and lets her imagination run loose… that she might be more inclined to act out the fantasy she has just experienced then him… and as I stated, the data tends to support that notion.
When we understand how men and women differ as to what causes them to be tempted sexually, it is easy to imagine why the internet is so much more dangerous for men, than women (as far as sexual tempations go). You will be hard pressed to surf online for more than 5 minutes and not find scantily clad women in innocent photos, advertisements or videos or actually viewing sexually related material, inadvertently or not. Erotic stories however are much more difficult to stumble upon.
So how far-reaching is the destructive power of pornography? Let’s list some areas:
- Family units and relationships – pornography is linked to nearly HALF of all divorces, meaning broken homes and children suffering from the loss of a parent.
- Human trafficking – 300,000 children per year in the US are at risk of being used for sexual exploitation – The Covering House
- STD Transmission among porn actors – Only 17% of heterosexual pornography utilizes condoms. Just 2 of the 200 Adult Film Companies require the use of condoms, and many of the others require performers to NOT use condoms for continued employment. – Covenant Eyes
- Desensitization – Studies are beginning to show that those who frequent porn sites are more likely to view sex strictly as a physical activity and women as sex objexts. – APA
Probably the single biggest stumbling block we face as a nation, as a society, as a culture is that the vast majority of the population doesn’t even believe pornograpy is a problem in the first place. We know that we have a drug problem, a drunk driving problem, an underage pregnancy problem, an obesity problem… we are easily able to identify MOST other major problems we face. So what is stopping us from recognizing pornography for what it is, purely destructive and dangerous on every level?
This is a tough question, which probably has many different answers or contributing factors… but what I have noticed in the past 30 years is a severe drop in moral standards of right and wrong. Behavior that was taboo 30 years ago is applauded today. Is this going to change? Are we going to find our way back as a nation? No, we are too far gone. But what we can do is educate people on this particular problem and raise awareness levels, which is why I am writing this article.
If you are in a married or committed relationship and feel you have a problem with pornography in your life, the rest of this article is for you. Just like any other addiction or temptation you can overcome the desire to watch porn in your life and as a result avoid damaging your relationship any further. You can also begin to repair and build trust again with your partner when they see you are willing to take positive steps in this area.
Here are the steps I have taken in my life that have brought me great success:
- Pray and meditate on the Word of God. Always take problems like this to God first and if you feel sexual urges begin to build up inside, grab your Bible and start reading Scripture. This helps me 99% of the time to divert my mind and get me back on track spiritually.
- Safe Eyes -This software is INVALUABLE for me. Once installed it eliminates the chance of visiting a porn website on your computer, and even blocks images that are questionable and may cause you to be tempted sexually. It is available for all devices. It does have an annual subscription, but it is very affordable and absolutely effective in what it sets out to accomplish.
- Bounce the eyes, this is a trick I learned from the book I recommended earlier “Every Man’s Battle”. The basic exercise goes like this, if you see anything in your day that COULD potentially be a trigger for sexual temptation – immediately bounce or move your eyes in another direction. Once you learn to do this repeatedly, it will become natural and will instantly put you in the right frame of mind and identify the sin you were about to partake in.
- Push away. Safe Eyes is a great tool but it will not stop 100% of the sexually tempting material you could come across on your internet travels. For this reason I have learned to push quickly away from my computer when I see something like this, and leave the computer. Treat it almost like a bee sting, jump up and move away. This gives you time to gather your thoughts, change your frame of mind and go back to your computer when you are ready.
- Be around people. If you have a computer in an office or bedroom, where you are alone with the internet for long periods of time, you may consider moving it to a common living space, where your wife or significant other is nearby frequently. This will GREATLY reduce the temptation to use internet porn in most cases… and if you are serious about kicking this habit, you should think this option over.
- Find and use accountability partners. It is best if this partner is NOT your wife or significant other, but rather a Church Brother or Sister, that you know and trust. What you will do is confide in this person the problem you are having, and it will be their job to HOLD YOU ACCOUNTABLE and constantly ask you the tough questions about how you are doing on your quest. Another great feature of Safe Eyes is the ability for it to EMAIL people of your choice a report of your internet activities. If you are serious you need to be held ACCOUNTABLE.
Please remember, as with almost any area of your life that you need help, you are not alone. More men (and women) than you can imagine face the same problems with porn that you do. Myself included. If you are a member of a church inquire with them and find out if they have a small group you can join for people with similar problems. The more of a support system you build the better chance you will have to stay porn free.
Stay Strong & Stand Tall