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20 Must-Know Stats About the Porn Industry and Its Underage Consumers

It’s no secret that porn has become mainstream entertainment in our society. But just how popular is it? And who, exactly, is watching?

By October 8, 2021No Comments

It’s no secret that porn has become mainstream entertainment in our society.

From popular porn sites offering free premium subscriptions to those isolated indoors to sites like BuzzFeed normalizing porn with viral videos, it feels like porn is taking over. Porn is plastered all over social media sites like Instagram, and it’s too easy to see on Twitter considering the Twitterverse is home to an estimated 10+ million porn accounts. But just because there’s a ton of porn that’s accessible and available doesn’t guarantee that people, especially underage kids, are stumbling upon it, right? Not exactly.

According to a nationally representative survey, 84.4% of 14 to 18-year-old males and 57% of 14 t0 18-year-old females have viewed pornography. That’s a lot of underage exposure to an industry that claims to be “adult” entertainment.

But not everyone is complaining about porn’s pervasiveness. Check out these real tweets we found:

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We wonder what these people would think once they understood the facts behind the harmful effects of porn.

The reality is that porn’s harmful effects are no longer a mystery, and new issues porn fuels or causes are regularly being discovered. The science and research have been out for years now, and thousands of people, including porn performers themselves, have spoken out on how porn has negatively impacted their lives and relationships.

So let’s shed some more light on this issue, shall we? Here are some quick stats and facts about porn’s presence and influence in our society.

Consumer stats that might surprise you:

1. According to a recent report by the BBFC, 75% of parents believed their child had never encountered porn, but of those children, 53% reported that they had in fact seen porn.British Board of Film Classification. (2020). Young people, pornography & age-verification. BBFC. Retrieved from https://www.bbfc.co.uk/about-classification/researchCOPY 

2. According to research by the NSPCC, of the adolescents who had been exposed to porn, 28% were first exposed by accident, 19% were unexpectedly shown pornography by someone else, and only 19% searched for it intentionally.Martellozzo, E., Monaghan, A., Adler, J. R., Davidson, J., Leyva, R., & Horvath, M. A. H. (2016). 'I wasn’t sure it was normal to watch it'. London: NSPCC. Retrieved from https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/research-resources/2016/i-wasn-t-sure-it-was-normal-to-watch-itCOPY 

3. Despite the fact that porn can be wildly unrealistic and often glorifies violence, sexism, or racism, one recent survey found that over half of boys (53%) and over a third of girls (39%) reported believing that pornography was a realistic depiction of sex.Martellozzo, E., Monaghan, A., Adler, J. R., Davidson, J., Leyva, R., & Horvath, M. A. H. (2016). 'I wasn’t sure it was normal to watch it'. London: NSPCC. Retrieved from https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/research-resources/2016/i-wasn-t-sure-it-was-normal-to-watch-itCOPY 

4. A Swedish study of 18-year-old males found that frequent consumers of pornography were significantly more likely to have sold and bought sex than other boys of the same age.Carl Göran Svedin, Ingrid Âkerman, and Gisela Priebe, “Frequent Users of Pornography. A Population-Based Epidemiological Study of Swedish Male Adolescents,” Journal of Adolescence 34, no. 4 (2011): 779–788.COPY 

5. A 2015 meta-analysis of 22 studies from seven countries found that internationally the consumption of pornography was significantly associated with increases in sexual aggression, both verbally and physically among males and females alike.Paul J. Wright, Robert S. Tokunaga, and Ashley Kraus, “A Meta-Analysis of Pornography Consumption and Actual Acts of Sexual Aggression in General Population Studies,” Journal of Communication 66, no. 1 (February 2016): 183–205.COPY 

6. A UK survey found that 44% of males aged 11–16 who consumed pornography reported that online pornography gave them ideas about the type of sex they wanted to try.Elena Martellozzo et al., “‘I Wasn’t Sure It Was Normal To Watch It . . .’ A Quantitative and Qualitative Examination of the Impact of Online Pornography on the Values, Attitudes, Beliefs, and Behaviours of Children and Young People,” London: Middlesex University (2016)COPY 

7. Consistent with other research on the topic, one study showed that almost half (46.9%) of those surveyed said their porn tastes/preferences escalated to the point of them being interested in more extreme pornography that had previously disinterested or even disgusted them.Wéry, A., & Billieux, J. (2016). Online sexual activities: An exploratory study of problematic and non-problematic usage patterns in a sample of men. Computers in Human Behavior, 56, 257-266. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2015.11.046COPY 

8. As of April 2021, according to an analysis of the most trafficked websites worldwide, 2 porn sites are in the top 10 most visited sites, with a third porn site coming in at 13th (Xvideos, Xnxx, and Pornhub at 7th, 9th, and 13th respectively).Similarweb. (2021). Top websites ranking. Accessed April 2021. Retrieved from https://www.similarweb.com/top-websites/COPY 

9. According to data from the SEMrush Traffic Analytics tool, as of May 2021 porn sites received more website traffic in the U.S. than Twitter, Instagram, Netflix, Pinterest, and LinkedIn combined.Semrush Blog. (2021). Top 100: The Most Visited websites in the US—2021 Top websites edition. Accessed on 24 May, 2021. Retrieved from https://www.semrush.com/blog/most-visited-websites/COPY 

10. “Teen” is one of the most consistently popular porn themes, and research shows that this theme is 1) becoming increasingly popular, and 2) includes the portrayal of underage characters.Walker, A., Makin, D. A., & Morczek, A. L. (2016). Finding Lolita: A comparative analysis of interest in youth-oriented pornography. Sexuality & Culture: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, 20(3), 657–683. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-016-9355-0COPY 

11. One review of 20 studies on the topic found that teen pornography consumption negatively impacts adolescents’ self-esteem and mental health.Koletić G. Longitudinal associations between the use of sexually explicit material and adolescents' attitudes and behaviors: A narrative review of studies. J Adolesc. 2017 Jun;57:119-133. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2017.04.006. Epub 2017 Apr 20. PMID: 28433892.COPY 

12. In 2018, 45 million images of child sexual abuse material (sometimes referred to as “child porn”) were reported, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. In 2019, that number jumped to 69.1 million. Keller, M. H., & Dance, G. J. X. (2019). The internet is overrun with images of child sexual abuse. what went wrong?. New York Times Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/09/28/us/child-sex-abuse.htmlCOPY National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. (2021). CyberTipline overview. Accessed July 2021. Retrieved from https://www.missingkids.org/gethelpnow/cybertiplineCOPY 

13. According to a 2020 survey, approximately 45% of teens who consumed porn did so in part to learn about sex.British Board of Film Classification. (2020). Young people, pornography & age-verification. BBFC. Retrieved from https://www.bbfc.co.uk/about-classification/researchCOPY 

14. The Internet Watch Foundation recently reported that during 2020, approximately 44% of all child sexual abuse material reported to the IWF involved self-generated material. That’s a 16% increase from 2019, when only a third of reports involved self-generated imagery.Internet Watch Foundation. (2021). The annual report 2020: Self-generated child sexual abuse. Retrieved from https://annualreport2020.iwf.org.uk/trends/international/selfgeneratedCOPY 

15. Of domestic minor trafficking victims who had been forced into porn production, the average age they began being filmed was 12.8 years old.Bouché, V. (2018). Survivor insights: The role of technology in domestic minor sex trafficking. Thorn. Retrieved from https://www.thorn.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Thorn_Survivor_Insights_090519.pdfCOPY 

16. Porn is a global, estimated $97 billion industry, with about $12 billion of that coming from the U.S.NBC News. (2015). Things are looking up in America's porn industry. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/things-are-looking-americas-porn-industry-n289431COPY 

17. In 2019 alone, the equivalent of nearly 6,650 centuries of porn was consumed on one of the world’s largest porn sites.Pornhub Insights. (2019). The 2019 year in review. Retrieved from https://www.pornhub.com/insights/2019-year-in-reviewCOPY 

18. 1 out of every 8 porn titles shown to first-time users on porn home pages describe acts of sexual violence.Vera-Gray, F., McGlynn, C., Kureshi, I., & Butterby, K. (2021). Sexual violence as a sexual script in mainstream online pornography. The British Journal of Criminology, doi:10.1093/bjc/azab035COPY 

19. According to Pornhub’s analytics, “Lesbian” was the most-searched-for porn term on the site in 2018. In 2019, it was “Japanese.”Pornhub Insights. (2018). The 2018 year in review. Retrieved from https://www.pornhub.com/insights/2018-year-in-reviewCOPY Pornhub Insights. (2019). The 2019 year in review. Retrieved from https://www.pornhub.com/insights/2019-year-in-reviewCOPY 

20. Survey results show that one in four 18 to 24-year-olds (24.5%) listed pornography as the most helpful source to learn how to have sex.Rothman, E. F., Beckmeyer, J. J., Herbenick, D., Fu, T. C., Dodge, B., & Fortenberry, J. D. (2021). The Prevalence of Using Pornography for Information About How to Have Sex: Findings from a Nationally Representative Survey of U.S. Adolescents and Young Adults. Archives of sexual behavior, 50(2), 629–646. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-020-01877-7COPY 

BHW - General

What do these numbers mean?

These issues aren’t going to change as long as people are not aware of the real, proven harms of porn. Right now, a vast majority of people believe that porn is harmless, but that’s something we can change. At one point in time, porn wasn’t a common issue that affected millions of people, much less all of society. It wasn’t a topic that needed to be discussed with such urgency. But, just by looking at these stats, it seems like those days are over.

Related: How Many People Are On Porn Sites Right Now? (Hint: It’s A Lot.)

Porn is a favorite pastime for millions of consumers, and many of them have no idea what kind of harm they’re letting into their own lives, or the kind of exploitation they’re contributing to. But we can change that. They deserve to know and make an informed decision for themselves.

We can raise awareness, and the good news is, each of us holds the power to change these numbers by being educated and decreasing the demand for sexual exploitation through awareness. Right now, the porn industry is simply supplying what people are demanding. The only way this changes is if people stop, re-examine reality, get educated about the real harmful effects of porn, and make a change in their lives to exclude porn.

Why this matters

By stopping the demand for porn, we are putting an end to something that harms consumers, negatively impacts relationships, and affects our society as a whole. It’s time to change the stats. Stopping the demand starts here.

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