Internet Pornography

Pornography on the Internet differs from traditional forms of pornography such as magazines and videos because it is more widely available. Watching pornography on the Internet is considered both active and interactive. Multimedia technologies offer viewers the ability to watch moving images and animated sequences, read explicit texts in real time, engage in so-called "hot chats" and play interactive sexual games. Also unlike traditional channels, consumers are able to produce and share their own pornographic materials.

Pornography itself is not a new phenomenon and the Internet itself cannot be blamed for the spread of pornography. Every medium invented has in some way or other been corrupted to transmit pornographic images. This phenomenon was first seen in print media such as newspapers, and evolved to films and movies.

The current trend is a result of the Internet's constant availability and the ability to access it in the privacy of one's home. This removes the shame factor, as one need not buy pornographic material or enter an X-rated movie theater. Interestingly, pornographic websites are visited most often during work hours than any other time.

Pornography on the Internet has had an impact on sexual behaviors. The anonymity of the Internet means people can do things that they would not do in public. It means that communities of like-minded individuals can get together and discuss and share images, such as child pornography, that they would not be able to do openly without fear of punishment.

The issue of child pornography is one that opponents of Internet pornography have rallied around. They argue that all pornographic sites should be banned from the Internet, or at least that pornographic material be filtered from Internet web searches. Counterarguments are made, especially in the United States, that this type of restriction violates the first amendment right of free speech and therefore Internet pornography should not be banned as long as the participants are of legal age.

The growth of the Internet and the explicit material contained within it has given rise to a situation in which people have anonymous, cost-free and unfettered access to an almost unlimited range of pornography. This material can be acquired almost effortlessly using a basic Internet search and within the confines of an individual's private home in a way that could not previously have been imagined. The pornography found on the Internet has the ability to change the sexual and personal dispositions that encouraged individuals to seek out the pornographic material in the first place. For example, a male who chooses to watch pornography may eventually settle on a particular form of arousal, and may then choose to experiment in this manner with a sexual partner.

Critics and some psychologists also claim that Internet pornography encourages individuals to build up a level of tolerance to sexual behavior so that eventually, they will need to watch more and more graphic pornography to arouse themselves. This tolerance can affect a person's real-life sexual encounters, if he is physically unable to become aroused in a "normal" way because he has become immune and needs instead to engage in more extreme sexual behavior to fulfill himself sexually.

It is generally believed that Internet pornography only becomes a major problem in a person's life when it is his major activity. Likewise, some people could potentially become addicted, always thinking about the next time they can watch pornography on the Internet even when engaged in other activities. This type of addiction can isolate people and lead to extreme behaviors.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Pornography, Community and the Internet - Freedom of Speech and Obscenity on the Internet
Kamiel, Yuval; Wismonsky, Haim.
Rutgers Computer & Technology Law Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1, Spring 2004
Generation P? Youth, Gender and Pornography
Susanne V. Knudsen; Lotta Löfgren Mårtenson; Sven-Axel Månsson.
Aarhus University Press, 2008
Librarian’s tip: Part III "Media and Pornography"
Disconnecting Child Pornography on the Internet: Barriers and Policy Considerations
Loftus, Rebecca Ayers.
Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Spring 2008
Use of Internet Pornography and Men's Well-Being
G, Andreas; Y, Ahmed; R, Katherine.
International Journal of Men's Health, Vol. 4, No. 2, June 3, 2005
A New Sexual Revolution? Critical Theory, Pornography, and the Internet
Garlick, Steve.
Canadian Review of Sociology, Vol. 48, No. 3, August 2011
A New First Amendment Model for Evaluating Content-Based Regulation of Internet Pornography: Revising the Strict Scrutiny Model to Better Reflect the Realities of the Modern Media Age
Garry, Patrick M.
Brigham Young University Law Review, Vol. 2007, No. 6, November 1, 2007
Regulating Internet Pornography Aimed at Children: A Comparative Constitutional Perspective on Passing the Camel through the Needle's Eye
Kende, Mark S.
Brigham Young University Law Review, Vol. 2007, No. 6, November 1, 2007
Internet Pornography Use in the Context of External and Internal Religiosity
Baltazar, Alina; Helm, Herbert W., Jr.; McBride, Duane; Hopkins, Gary; Stevens, John V., Jr.
Journal of Psychology and Theology, Vol. 38, No. 1, Spring 2010
College Student Attitudes toward Pornography Use
O'Reilly, Sarah; Knox, David; Zusman, Marty E.
College Student Journal, Vol. 41, No. 2, June 2007
Third-Person Effect, Gender, and Pornography on the Internet
Lo, Ven-hwei; Wei, Ran.
Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Vol. 46, No. 1, March 2002
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