Porn addiction statistics – where it came from and what it is today

Reviewed By Priyanka Bhattacharjee, is a licensed and practicing Clinical Psychologist based in India, who has been working very closely with a variety of mental health issues across different age groups for the past 7 years. Working for the cause of mental health is her passion, and primarily advocates for primary prevention and early intervention. Her professional interest areas include diagnosis and therapy for Addiction, Personality Disorders, Mood and Affective Disorders, Children and Adolescents’ Mental Health, Couple Intervention, and Workplace Mental Health issues.

Porn Addiction Statistics

In the 21st century, streaming porn online is perhaps as popular as Netflix. What once used to be synonymous with the internet, porn’s become something everyone knows but doesn’t necessarily talk about.   

High-speed internet and smartphones have made any kind of adult content available at your fingertips. Before the prevalence of internet, peers bought or rented porn from the video store. It was a norm for every man to have a collection of what they considered the best stuff.  

But how did this now multibillion-dollar-dollar industry come about? Or in other words, when was the advent of porn? You’ve watched porn for countless hours but have you ever pondered over these questions?  

Porn of Ages  

The first known documented visual representations of sexual acts date back to prehistoric times. These depictions were sculptures and engravings from ancient civilizations. However, these were not made to masturbate to, rather to represent their spiritual and religious beliefs as they were often intertwined with sex.  

Come Anno Domini, visual representations were made by bold artists to mock religious and political authorities. With the commencing of print technology, more pornographic content was being produced. 14th century Italian engraver, Marcantonio Raimondi, was perhaps the first person to be imprisoned for creating a series of erotic engravings.  

During the French Revolution, satirists were increasingly using sexually explicit material to mock politicians. However, pornography was only accessible for the elite at the time and thus distributors were not prosecuted until it reached the general public.  

With printing becoming more affordable in Europe, erotic content was marketed towards the masses. Several attempts were made to penalize distributors and stop the distribution completely. Even with these attempts, industries catering to adult content started springing up in cities like New York and London.  

By late 19th century, pornographic films came into existence. Though considered risqué for the time, the movies don’t show complete nudity. However, the beginning of the 1900s saw porn from Argentina and America depicting hardcore sexual acts. 

With technological advancements in printing and photography, adult magazines became more popular than ever. These were sold as Art Magazines and appeared in France first with softcore erotic representations. Emergence of and competition between adult magazines like Playboy and Penthouse started normalizing full nudity and more hardcore content.  

At the same time, porn videos were also on the rise. Several production houses catering to hardcore pornography came into existence in Europe and America. These films would be available in video stores and there was always a huge market of consumers for it. This even led to an explosion of porno theatres as several previously failing theatres were able to reel in profits.  

The real spike in the availability of pornographic content happened after the 2000s when people got familiarized with the World Wide Web.  

Internet Porn : Porn addiction statistics

Internet Porn

The first ever porn site on the internet reportedly came into existence in 1994. But even before dedicated adult content websites, people were sharing sexually explicit images on Usenet, a discussion forum.  

Usenet was established in 1980, where users could post and read messages on newsgroups. It is similar to present-day internet forums, like how Reddit has subreddit groups for specific topics. However, the most popular newsgroups were all adult oriented. A 1995 study published by TIME magazine on Usenet termed ‘Cyber Porn’ found that 83.5% of all content was porn. 

Around late 80s, Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) started becoming popular. These platforms allowed users to dial up into each other’s computers to browse through stored files like games and programs. Apart from professional BBSs like Free-net, many local and private ones existed. What did they browse for most, you ask? You’re right. They all browsed for porn.  

This made professional BBSs realize the best way to get paid subscribers was through adult content. CEO and owner of Events Horizon BBS, arguably the most financially successful BBS, simply had 10 employees scan and upload photos onto their system. Other Bulletin Board Systems like ExecPC BBS was making $2 million a year by 1993 and Events Horizon BBS a whopping $3.2 million!     

However, Playboy sued Events Horizon for copyright infringement in which they were settled half a million dollars. What’s interesting is, this was in early 90s, when the internet couldn’t even display images! The first time a digital distributor was sued for copyright issues was for pornographic content.  

BBSs, as an initiative to grow their libraries, gave compensations schemes where users were given more bytes to download for every byte they upload. So, by sharing your files you got to download twice as much or more of other uploaded content. This made the platform the ultimate collection of porn, and this was before the internet became what we know it as today.  

In 1994, software engineer Marc Andreesen changed the internet forever. He had the idea of making web more accessible by designing a user-friendly browser that could view images and he did. This meant that the images wouldn’t be in zip files like BBSs.  

Most of the initial porn websites on the internet were just BBSs that shifted their content online. But they couldn’t risk what happened with Events Horizon and Playboy. So, the BBSs started making their own content to prevent ownership claims over their, you guessed it, porn. 

Websites with rudimentary HTML codes were designed where a user can pay from $20-$30 as monthly subscriptions to access photos of nude women. As most were wary of giving out credit card information on the web (at the time), these sites would accept check slips or credit card number through phone calls.  

CyberCash, one of the very first internet-based payment service, got most of their money from porn. Essentially, porn sites were the first sites that made people comfortable with sharing banking details and making membership/login IDs on the internet.  

Thereby, most security features that ecommerce sites have now were all pioneered by porn websites as bankers, service providers and pretty much everyone else didn’t want to associate themselves with the industry.  

But all pornographers were in doubt as to how to publish videos; users still used dialup connections that will take a long time for the images to download let alone videos. Interestingly, porn companies were the first to design websites that could play compressed videos that can be paused, and skipped back and forth – a technology that was relatively non-existent until then. 

In fact, almost all the production houses of adult content came into existence because of the web. The ones who produced VCRs before shifted to the new platform, as they were able to get direct payments through their websites. There are reportedly 43,337 adult websites on the internet today and the porn industry grosses about $15 billion dollars annually!  

What does this say about humans?  

What does this say about humans?  

This is an interesting question considering the facts stated above. For all we know, the internet was synonymous to porn (or still is to many) because porn was its driving force. The first payments through the web were made for accessing sexually explicit material, and that too in in hundreds of millions!  

In 2019, one of the more famous porn websites, PornHub, reported 115 million visitors on average daily. These numbers show that people all over have a clear problem with porn, where they don’t mind spending cash, time or effort to access virtual sexual experiences. 

To enable this compulsion, the porn industries keep producing new and more enticing content to keep their loyal and growing users hooked. But most fail to recognize the problems that entail from this persistent and compulsive porn consumption among the masses. 

Pornographic content has many a times destroyed relationships or brought embarrassment. The accessibility of porn in this day and age makes one want to explore it even when they’re not necessarily aroused.  

Watching the extreme acts in it can even change the way a person behaves sexually in real lives. Further, this could make the user see porn more attractive than real sex as their partners’ bodies don’t adhere to porn star standards.  

Even worse, excessive consumption could make one feel bad about their own bodies and sexual capabilities shying them away from making a real connection. This is also why a growing number of young men have erectile dysfunction since the 2000s, a condition that was considered to be only prevalent among old people.  

Porn-Induced-Erectile-Dysfunction is the condition where one can only maintain an erection while watching porn and not during sex. This happens due to excessive porn consumption that leads to lower self-esteem as they develop bad body image, doubts of their performance and/or high expectation from their partners.   

Other problems that porn can lead to include anxiety, demotivation and depression; the constant production of dopamine makes the brain build tolerance thus disabling you from enjoying the little things in life, other than your little buddy.  

Humans are clearly highly sexual beings, but it shouldn’t be expressed through masturbating to porn. Neither masturbation nor porn is inherently damaging, but coupling them together can prove addictive to many as it is a quick escape from reality. However, instant gratification takes you nowhere as it doesn’t last long.  

Quit porn for good. Be the best version of yourself, both in the streets and the sheets. Install BlockerX.   

References 
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