Pornography is having an impact on children and families every day. One study showed 1 in 5 men that reported using pornography said that porn was taking time away from their wives and kids. 37% of these users also reported that they spend 5 or more hours a week using pornography. (Fight the New Drug) Another report shows that 62% of divorced couples say that porn was a factor that lead to their divorce.
Pornography is tearing apart families and destroying individual's lives. A national study of over 1500 children and adolescents (ages 10-17) showed just how substantial the impact can be on children and families. Those that viewed pornography were 4 times more likely to show delinquent behaviors and 2 times more likely to use substances. (Innovative Public Heath)
Children and adolescents viewing pornography are impacted more that adult viewers. This is because children and adolescent brains are still developing. Mimic neurons are still working in the process of development, which teach children and adolescents learned behaviors. In 2010, the 50 most popular pornographic films had 88.2% showing physical aggression and 48.7% showing verbal aggression. A 2006-2008 survey of youth ages 10-15 showed that pornography viewers were 6.5 times more likely to exhibit sexually aggressive behaviors. This number jumped to 24 times more likely when exposed to violent pornographic material. (The Advocate's Role)
The likelihood of this happening to children on the Internet appears to be high with 1 in 4 being exposed to sexual images and 1 in 5 receiving a sexual solicitation on the Internet (World Congress).
Some measures have been taken over the years to try and protect minors from being exposed to content that may be viewed as “indecent.” But is that necessary? Is there really harm in viewing such content? A study conducted in Journal Of Child Psychology & Psychiatry showed that there are several risk factors for children viewing pornography.
- personality factors (sensation-seeking, low self-esteem, psychological difficulties)
- social factors (lack of parental support, peer norms)
- digital factors (online practices, digital skills, specific online sites.
- Online risks are increasingly intertwined with pre-existing (offline) risks in children's lives.
- What starts as seemingly innocent online viewing often manifests itself in real-life behavior for these children. (1)________________________________________________________________________
Step 1-Addiction. Once consumers of pornography get hooked, they keep coming back for more and more. The sexually graphic material provides the viewer with an aphrodisiac effect, followed by sexual release, most often through masturbation. Pornography gives the viewer powerful imagery that can be recalled and elaborated on with the person's fantasy life. Despite negative consequences, most addicts are unable to rid themselves of their dependence on pornography. Their addiction rules their lives.
Step 2-Escalation. Cline describes the second phase as an escalation-effect. The pornography consumer, similar to the drug user, requires more and more stimulation to reach his or her "highs." In fact some viewers prefer the powerful sexual imagery planted in their minds by exposure to pornography to sexual intercourse itself. This nearly always diminishes the viewer's capacity to love and express appropriate intimacy within relationships.
Step 3-Desensitization. In this phase, material that was originally perceived as unthinkable, shocking, illegal, repulsive, or immoral is now viewed as acceptable and commonplace by the viewer of pornography. Regardless of the deviancy expressed, the viewer perceives the pornography and his or her use of it as legitimate.
Step 4-Acting out sexually. This last step describes an increased tendency to act out sexually the behaviors viewed in pornography, including promiscuity, voyeurism, exhibitionism, group sex, rape, sadomasochism, child molestation, and more.
Clearly, this progressive pattern demonstrates how reality and fantasy become blurred for those who are entangled with pornography or when viewing is no longer enough. Early emotional wounding is almost always a factor in pornography addiction.
According to United Families.org, (3) A U.S. House of Representatives committee found that exposing children to pornographic material causes harm to children ad is a dangerous influence in their development. Neuroscientist Dr. Gary Lynch said, "[A]n event which lasts half a second[,] within five to 10 minutes has produced a structural change that is in some ways as profound as the structural changes … in [brain]damage … [and] can … leave a trace that will last for years."
Testimony of Dr. Mary Anne Layden, U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, (2004, 18 November).
Concerned citizens working together can establish community standards and prevent sex-oriented businesses, such as strip bars, from opening in areas where they are inappropriate. Citizens may not be able to close down existing sex-oriented businesses, but they can push for the enactment of strict regulations on them. Consumers may not be able to persuade grocery stores to get rid of lewd magazines, but they can insist that the magazines be covered in wrapping paper, placed in obscure locations and sold only to adults. Citizens can urge hotel chains not to offer pornographic cable programming. In short, citizens may not be able to outlaw pornography, but they can work to educate people of its harms and advocate that the use of pornography is unthinkable.
Parents need to control and monitor the use of home computers, keeping them in areas of high visibility. Many good filtering programs are available and reasonably priced. Family engagement in wholesome activities is the best defense against the contamination of porn in the home.
Pornography creators have not made adequate attempts to minimize the exposure of minors to obscenity. In fact, children are viewed as current porn consumers and scores of online pornographers have embedded the names of popular children’s toys in their websites so that Internet users are directed to their site when searching for toys.
Most children have encountered online porn and one in five has been sexually propositioned by adults or other children forwarding porn to them. Some children’s websites are besieged by pop-up ads for adult sites. It is not uncommon for “children’s” video games to feature pimps, prostitutes and full nudity. Boys in the 12-to-17 age range constitute pornography’s largest consumer group. It is not then surprising that the number of treatment centers for juvenile sex offenders has risen exponentially in recent years.