Impact of Pornography on Society

Pornography has become controversial as its presence on the internet continues to rise and its availability to minors of all ages increases. Many people view pornography as immoral, wrong, and potentially damaging to those who view it. Others argue that pornography can be an important part of sexual education, helping to reduce stigma and improve communication between sexual partners. In this paper, we will examine the impact of pornography on society and discuss the debate over its moral implications.

What is Pornography?

According to the Oxford dictionary, pornography can be understood as the explicit representation of sexual activity in images or writing. Access to pornography has evolved with technological development, from print to digital media, which has affected the ease with which one can access such material. The instantaneous nature has raised various questions regarding its effect on human psychology.

Prevalence of Online Pornography

The Survey Center on American Life has documented the prevalence of pornography consumption among young American males. They have found that 42 percent of men between 30 and 49 consume pornographic content at least once weekly. The study also found that 66 percent of women have admitted to watching pornography at least once. This shows clearly that online pornography has an indispensable audience. The following will be an examination of how such a widespread yet taboo form of entertainment has positive as well as negative consequences.

Psychological Effects of Pornography

Pornography, according to researchers, has two effects on its viewers. A brief examination of modern literature reveals the presence of four aspects of psychology that are prone to malady−

Exposure at an Early Age

Tulhofer's 2018 study found cross-sectional evidence that pornography use is associated with lower mental well-being among adolescents. However, it is unclear whether these changes are related to the dynamics of pornography use within this population. Pornography use was associated with increased self-esteem and symptoms of depression and anxiety, albeit only among adolescent women. Low subjective well-being was associated with a subsequent increase in pornography use, but only in female adolescents.

Distorted Body Image

In recent years, an ever-increasing amount of research has shown the effects of pornography on body image among individuals. From the impact of idealized body types presented in the media to a rise in cosmetic surgery, the influence of pornography has been substantial. Many think that pornography can lead to a warped perception of beauty and negatively affect how people view themselves and others. However, some studies suggest that pornography can liberate and benefit mental health.

Poor Interpersonal Relationships

Pornography can have a detrimental effect on relationships, particularly marital ones. Research has found that couples who view porn often report lower satisfaction in their relationships and a decrease in marital happiness compared to those who do not. Furthermore, some studies suggest that porn consumption can lead to increased extramarital affairs and distort the partner's idea of a healthy sexual relationship. Similarly, research also links porn consumption to increased emotional problems such as depression and anxiety, which can also strain the relationship.

Pornography Addiction

Although the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders has not specified pornography as an addiction, literature has confirmed such phenomena' presence. The World Health Organization added compulsive sexual behavior as a mental health disorder in 2018. Moreover, while it does not single out a pornography (or any other) addiction, it does refer to repetitive sexual activities becoming the central focus of a person's life to the point that they neglect their "health and personal care or other interests, activities, and responsibilities."

The Psychological Effects of Viewing Pornography as a Youth

In addition to the physical implications of seeing sexual content, psychological ramifications should be taken seriously. Though psychological impacts are less visible than physical symptoms, the influence they may have on a young kid or teenager is just as harmful. In the case of children and adolescents who had a history of being a juvenile sexual offender as well as a history of pornography, 83% had a history of verbal bullying, 80% had a history of lying, and 79% had a history of stealing. Furthermore, 78% had a history of physical bullying, 70% of conning, 65% of arson, 54% had run away from home, and 49% were truants. Even though these findings are for previously disturbed adolescents and teenagers, they are remarkable.

This demonstrates a link between seeing pornography and engaging in delinquent behavior. Following this, kids who watch porn are likelier to have sex, including same-sex intercourse, masturbate, and have a one-night stand. These psychological impacts are extremely significant because they shape how individuals connect. Viewing pornography may affect society and how individuals relate to and interact with one another if it truly greatly impacts an individual's psychological state and the actions that result from this state of mind. The consequences of pornography usage are serious, and people must realize how damaging pornography use can be. Pornography usage can create emotional damage in adolescents and young people, in addition to behavioral issues.

Potential Benefits of Pornography

A portion of the literature also claims that pornography usage also has certain positive effects. A study published in the Oxford Academic Journal found several ways this is possible.

  • Positive influence on an individual's sexual wellness, mental health,

  • Relationships and communication

  • Body acceptance

  • Sexual knowledge

  • Increase safer sexual behavior, and

  • Self-acceptance of sexual minority groups


It is undeniable that pornography has an audience. Adult content is more accessible than ever, and it has a host of psychological effects on its viewers. There is a potential to distort sexual expectations in relationships and a vulnerability to addiction. Nevertheless, many have found it to be an opening for communication in their relationships and to normalize taboo sexuality.

Updated on: 02-May-2023


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