Wendy J. Smith

What internet sites have more viewers that Amazon, Netflix, YouTube and Twitter combined every month? Pornography.

1. Do you know how many suspected online sex offenders the Internet Crimes Against Children task force arrested in one 2019 national sting operation? One thousand seven hundred.

2. Do you know how many visits PornHub reported in 2018? There were 33,500,000,000 visits to PornHub in 2018, which represents an increase of approximately 13.7 million more visits each day compared with 2017.

These are not questions and answers from a popular trivia game. These are the shocking facts. Pornography consumption is a growing problem in the United States. In just the United States, it is estimated that pornography generates $12 to $13 billion annually. Unsolicited pornography has a substantial presence on the internet as well. In a 2016 Barna study, which included over 3,000 interviews, “Nearly half of young adults say they come across porn at least once a week, even when they aren’t seeking it out. Nearly three-quarters of young adults (71%) and half of teens (50%) come across what they consider to be porn at least once a month, whether they are seeking it or not.”

Pornography is becoming ubiquitous across the digital world. It is becoming impossible to protect ourselves, our families, (especially our teens), and our friends from inadvertently viewing pornography.

Pornography directly or indirectly, impacts every gender, age, race, and socioeconomic group. The trends are very disturbing. In a July Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, a panel of experts highlighted the predatory practices exploiting children and teens through targeting, grooming, pornography and sex trafficking on a wide range of digital platforms/websites. Christopher McKenna, from Protecting Young Eyes, reported on a survey of 2,000 teens, which showed “75% of teens reported receiving pornographic direct messages from strangers on Instagram, even if they had a private account.” In March, CNN reported that “More children are being groomed on Instagram than on other social media platforms…”

The pervasiveness and easy accessibility of pornography on mobile devices is having a negative impact on attitudes and behaviors — impacting personal relationships (private and professional), sexual violence/crime, abuse, and fueling the demand for sexual exploitation. Another concern is the growing body of evidence, within the neuroscience community, showing that pornography viewing can be addictive. Research is also beginning to link pornography to mental health issues, such as depression and compulsive sexual behavior. Pornography isn’t harmless. It is not victimless.

As the evidence showing the harmful effects of pornography mounts, so does the effort to combat pornography. In fact, 16 states have passed resolutions identifying pornography as a “public health crisis”!

In an effort to increase public awareness about the risks associated with pornography, there will be a free public showing at the Ent Center for the Arts of the documentary titled “Brain, Heart, World” 7-9 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) Monday, Nov. 4.

Wendy J. Smith is a retired Colorado Springs nurse practitioner.

Load comments