Record numbers viewing Internet porn


By Anthony Barnes and Sophie Goodchild

London - Record numbers of men and women are downloading pornography from the Internet, making Britain the fastest growing market in the world for the booming £20-billion (about R244-billion) adult website industry.

In the first definitive portrait of the nation's growing consumption of pornography, The Independent on Sunday revealed that more than nine million men - almost 40 percent of the male population - used pornographic websites last year, compared with an estimated two million in 2000.

In a major survey for the Independent by Nielsen NetRatings, the world-leader in Internet analysis, the research also discloses that women are among the fastest growing users of pornography on the Internet, with a 30 percent rise from one million to 1,5 million in the past 12 months.

The figures also show that more than half of all children - about seven million - have encountered pornography on the Internet "while looking for something else".

Until now, the extent of the use by Britons of Internet pornography had not been accurately measured. But the new figures show that one in four men aged 25 to 49 have visited an adult website in the past month - a total of 2,5 million.

The surge in use of web pornography mirrors a huge boom in the number of hard-core sex films available to buy legally in the UK over the past few years. Film censors passed more hard-core sex films last year than 18-rated movies.

Relationship agencies have reported that as many as 40 percent of couples with problems believe pornography has contributed to their difficulties.

Christine Lacey, a senior counsellor for Relate, said: "For many women, the reaction is exactly the same as if they discovered their partner is having an affair. They may not be having sex with someone else but the effect is the same if it is detrimental to their marriage."

Sandra Gidley, MP, Liberal Democrat health spokesperson, said she was "alarmed by the type of material accessible to people, particularly young people". "I'm concerned that the boundaries are being pushed on what is acceptable. Some of the hard-core stuff is quite shocking," she said.

While some specialists welcomed the figures, saying they show Britons have a more liberated attitude towards sex, others warned the search for graphic images of sex acts is contributing to relationship break-ups.

Phillip Hodson of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy warned that this new generation of "voyeurs" risk problems in their love lives.

"The Internet has made sex-lazy men even sex-lazier where they get lost in their own world," he added.

"It used to be said that men neglected foreplay, but now they are neglecting sex."

The UK porn industry is estimated to be now worth about �1-billion, compared with �20-billion worldwide. British Internet surfers look up the word "porn" more than anyone in the English-speaking world. - The Independent


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