Internet Pornography: An occasion of sin for our time


The facts and the statistics about Internet pornography.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness,
but one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet never sinned.

(Hebrews 4:15)


What is Internet pornography?

   Internet pornography specifically refers
      to sexually explicit material
      available to consumers on the Internet
      accessed for the purpose of arousal

   Cybersex refers to a consensual sexual
      discussion on-line for the purpose of
      achieving arousal or an orgasm

Internet Pornography Statistics, accessed January, 2010

(unless otherwise indicated, the statistics were accessed from: Jerry Ropelato, Internet Pornography Statistics; available from Top Ten Reviews)

   Sex is the number one search topic on the Internet

   372 million pornographic websites are currently available (in 2003 the number
       was 1.3 million)

   100,000 websites offer illegal child pornography

   2.5 billion e-mails per day are pornographic (Pornography Statistics, Family
       Safe Media, 2003)

   More than 100 million individuals accessed a pornographic website in 2008 (23
       million in 2003)

          • 72% were men
          • 28% were women

   70% of Internet pornography traffic occurs between 9 am and 5 pm (Retzlaff,
       Eric, Pornography’s Grip tightens by Way of Internet, National Catholic
, June 13-19, 1999)

   The most common ways people accidentally reached pornographic content on
       the Web are pop-up windows (55%), misrepresented links (52%),
       misspelled URLs (48%) and auto links within e-mails (23%) (Fifty Percent of
       Workers Spend Nine Days a Year on Personal Surfing at Work,
       Cerberian Inc. and SonicWALL, July 20, 2004)

   More than 70% of men from 18-34 visit pornographic sites in a typical month
       (ComScore media Metrix)

   48% of families said pornography is a problem in their home (Focus on the
       Family Poll, October 1, 2003)

   The Internet was a significant factor in 2 out of 3 divorces (Am. Academy of
       Matrimonial Lawyers in 2003 –

   Average age of first Internet exposure to pornography is 8 years old

   Boys ages 12-17 are one of the largest consumers of pornography

       • Pornographers target them for that reason
       • 90% of them view on-line porn while doing their homework

   1 in 25 youth who use the Internet have been sexually solicited where the
       solicitor tried to make contact offline (phone, mail or meeting in person)
       (Covenant Eyes, 2009)

   29% of 7-17 year olds would freely give out home address

   2 in 5 abductions of children ages 15-17 are due to Internet contact (San Diego
       Police Dept., 2005)

   Rape statistics are proportionately higher in those states with higher
       pornography sales and lower in those states with lower pornography sales

   13,585 hard-core pornographic video/DVD titles were released in the United
       States, up from 1,300 titles in 1988 (Sex on TV 4, Kaiser
       Family Foundation, Menlo Park, CA., 2005)

   Worldwide sex industry sales for 2006 are reported to be $97 billion, more
       revenue than Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple,
       Netflix, and  Earthlink combined.

   Every second $3,076 is being spent on pornography

   Every second 28,250 Internet users are viewing pornography

   Every 39 minutes a new pornographic video is being created in the United

Addiction —an unanticipated concern

   Psychiatrically, "addiction" refers to the presence of:

       • Tolerance which occurs when the same amount of a substance elicits less of
          a response
       • Withdrawal symptoms
       • Affective disturbances including:

          o Depression
          o Irritability
          o Impulsivity
          o Impaired concentration
          o Disrupted sleep
          o Aggressive behavior

       • Interruption of social relationships

Criteria for an addiction to Internet pornography

   Experts in addiction disorders describe five successive and interdependent
       stages through which individuals progress into an addiction to Internet

       • Discovery
       • Experimentation
       • Habit
       • Compulsivity
       • Hopelessness

   The progression of these stages may be gradual or may occur rapidly after
       discovering pornographic websites

Why has Internet pornography viewing become so popular?




What underpins the emergence of Internet pornography addiction?

   While it may appear that addictions are pleasure-seeking behaviors, the roots
       of any addiction can usually be traced to an effort to wish to suppress or
       avoid some kind of emotional pain

   Addiction is a way to escape from an experience that is either too full of
       sadness (such as an abusive relationship) or too devoid of joy (an
       emotionally empty life)

   Emotional trauma in early life may be at the root of some addictions

   Addiction to pornography offers a fantasy world in which there are endless
       people who appear to be interesting to – and interested in – the person

   By fantasizing, the person addicted to pornography is able to create idealized
       images of sexual partners whom he believes will meet his every impulsive


See also, "Internet Pornography: Practical means of avoiding the near occasion of this sin" by Sister Marysia Weber, R.S.M., D.O.



Sister Marysia Weber, R.S.M., D.O. "Internet Pornography: An occasion of sin for our time." Sacred Heart Mercy Health Care Center (March 1, 2010).

Published by permission of Sister Marysia Weber, R.S.M., D.O.


Sister Marysia Weber, R.S.M., D.O., a Religious Sister of Mercy of Alma, Michigan, is a physician certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. She completed her residency and a fellowship in consultation-liaison psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota in 1989 and practices in her religious institute's multidisciplinary medical clinic, Sacred Heart Mercy Health Care Center. Her primary work includes assessing and treating seminary candidates, priests and religious. She has also offered numerous formation workshops on a variety of formation issues for U.S. Bishops, seminary formators and vocation directors. She presented to the U.S. Bishops in Dallas TX in 1992 on "Pedophilia and Other Addictions". She was a member of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse in 1994-1995. Sister Marysia has presented to the Curia, Vatican City State on "Sexual Abuse of Minors by Clergy in North America" in 2002.

Her publications include "Pornography, Electronic Media and Priestly Formation" in Homiletic and Pastoral Review, April 2008, and Significant Markers of Human Maturation Applied to the Selection and Formation of Seminarians in Seminary Journal, Spring 2009. Her paper, The Discernment of a Priestly Vocation and the Expertise of Psychiatry and Psychology will be published in Seminary Journal, Spring, 2010. Her paper, "The Age of Internet Technology in the Life of Seminary Candidates and the Diocesan Priesthood: Breaking Free from Internet Pornography Addiction" is pending publication.

Copyright © 2010 Sister Marysia Weber, R.S.M., D.O.

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