The rapid growth of the Internet since 1993 has led to creation of unprecedented opportunities in various sections of economy encompassing business applications, communication, interaction, education, and entertainment (Johnson, 1997; Schawrtz, 1997; (Fisher and Barak, 2001). However, the fact that Internet is explicitly driven by commercial forces, and play on immediate investment and returns has worked in creating a huge database for sex related content.
Without any parallel, sex is the most researched keywords on the Internet and number of pornographic web sites have increased exponentially year by year, raking in enormous viewership and equally enormous revenues that have made internet porn industry as a multi billion venture. (Hapgood, 1996; Chen, 1999) (Fisher and Barak, 2001). Since the early days of its commercialization, the Internet and the World Wide Web have been active platforms for storage, dissemination, and even production of pornographic materials, colloquially known as cyberporn or cybersex.
Research by content analyses (Heider & Harp, 2000; Mehta & Plaza, 1997;) has shed light on the form and manner of distribution of sex explicit content that is posted on the Internet, and it is shown that material is present in very interactive dimension, designed to maximize user retention, and encourage maximum possible visits (Lo and Wei, 2002) . The exponential increase in internet pornography has raised concerns among social scientists, moral watchdogs and parents (Mehta & Plaza, 1997).
This concern has valid base as long line of evidences present in literature shows that continued exposure to pornographic material works in changing moral and ethical codes of an individual, leads to sexual arousal and brings cognitive and perceptive changes, including changes in attitudes, behavior and approach. As mentioned by Fisher and Barak, (2001) pornography has also been shown responsible by a number of studies in increasing aggression and sexual violence (Dobson, 1997);.
It is understandable therefore that policymakers, parents, and educators are apprehensive of internet pornography’s deleterious effect on social and cultural construct of the society (Lo and Wei, 2002) Effects of Internet Pornography on Sexual Attitudes and Behavior It is a general concern among parents, educators and social psychologists that Internet Pornography is an egregious extension of traditional pornography, and its effect are therefore likely to be more harmful and deep seated.
Despite the absence of comprehensive empirical data on exact range and effect of internet pornography on sexual attitudes and behavior of adolescents and youngsters, relevant research on effect of cyberporn, media sex and pornographic materials present on internet on adolescents, and poorly informed children’s sexual attitudes and behavior have generated sufficient information to identify immediate and far-reaching effects of internet pornography (Cooper et al, 1999; Greenberg & Hofschire, 2001; Malamuth & Impett, 2001; S.
Heider, D. , & Harp, D. 2000). The findings have repeatedly shown that sexually explicit content available on Internet has a strong influence on young people’s sexual attitude (Lo and Wei, 2002) Children who are exposed to sexually explicit content on internet show sexual permissiveness and aggression that is disturbing and beyond the socially acceptable limits.
It is also observed that continued exposure to pornographic material, and consumption of sexually suggestive content has significant impact in instances of multiple sexual relations(Strouse and Buerkel-Rothfuss 1987). Greeson and Williams (1986) in their significant study on the impact of visual media on levels of sexual activity observed that viewing sexually suggestive media, such as MTV promoted acceptance of premarital sex among junior and senior high school students.
In a similar study by Greenberg & Hofschire, (2001) it was found that adolescents with higher consumption of sexual media condoned premarital sexual relations and rated these relations as more acceptable than those who had seen content highlighting marital sexual relations. These findings have been repeatedly confirmed by many further studies on Internet pornography and exposure of young people to cyber porn from their earlier days (Greenberg & Hofschire, 2001, Lo and Wei, 2002). Internet Pornography and attitude towards Women
In the studies to identify impact of sexual exposure on sexual aggression, sexual behavior and sexual crime, it has been observed that continued exposure to variety of internet pornography, leads to callousness towards sexual partners and indifference towards victims of sexual violence, while introducing aggression and violence as a part in men’s sexual behavior (Malamuth & Impett, 2001; Bauserman, 1996; Lo and Wei, 2002; Zillmann & Bryant, 1989). (Malamuth et al. , 2000; Zillmann, 1998; Zillmann & Bryant, 1989).
In the studies to identify influence of pornography on people’s sexual attitudes and behavior, it is found in experimental study among college students, that students who spent more than 6 hours of time in surfing online pornographic material every week, tended to show greater acceptance of premarital sex and tended to see sex without love as being more important than did a control group that saw non-sexually explicit films. These significant findings have led to following conclusions (Lo and Wei, 2002). 1.
Adolescents with higher level of exposure to Internet pornography exhibit higher level of premarital permissive attitudes, sexual aggression and sexual atrophy. exposure to sexually explicit material freely available on Internet, brings changes in teens’sexual permissiveness. Even in the studies conducted in traditional domain of pornography, viz. television and magazines, it is found that television and pop music were two biggest sources of media pressure to engage in sexual activity. It was also found that heavy television viewers tended to hold more negative attitudes toward maintaining virginity (Malamuth & Impett, 2001).
In the similar vein, it s found that that exposure to Internet pornography has been the most powerful predictor of adolescents’ sexually permissive behavior in contemporary age(Lo et al. , 1999) 2. Adolescents who have had a higher level of exposure to Internet pornography will be more likely to condone extramarital sex: Although in the general social construct, extramarital sex, multiple sex and sexual aggression is considered sinful and morally unacceptable, with more than 90 percent respondents, in a survey conducted in the United States, feeling that extramarital sex is “always” or “almost always” wrong (T.
W. Smith, 1994), Internet Pornography causes a definite reversal of these well accepted social trends and values. Internet Pornography Sexually explicit materials posted on the Internet is different from pornographic materials posted on videos and magainzes, making Internet pornography unique and distinct from the traditional pornography.
Following are the important ways in which internet pornography is distinct from its traditional counterpart : (a) Wide availability through Bulletin Board Services (BBS) groups and via the World Wide Web through database accesses, interactive services, e-mail, Internet Relay Chat (IRC), and real-time data feeds; (b) Pornographic material is active and interactive, presented in various multimedia formats such as digitized moving images, sexually explicit texts, animated sequences, sexually explicit chats chats, and interactive sexual games; and (c) consumers also produce and post pornographic materials (Mehta & Plaza, 1997).
The sexually explicit materials and pornographic content on the Internet do not differ significantly from those appearing in traditional media. In fact, many companies that were engaged in production of X rated movies and magazines, made their transition to world wide web by mere digitization of their existing content. However, the new medium offers state-of-the art presentation and dissemination features, along with possibilities of direct interaction and participation in production of pornographic material make Internet unique and revolutionary.
Internet also provides such novel attributes as easy accessibiilty, anonymity, and affordability for users across different age groups, while transcending the geographic boundaries. The net also provides users the privilege to customize materials, selective downloading and storage, and use the net for production, distribution, and manipulation of pornographic materials (S. Heider, D. , & Harp, D. 2000; Cooper et al, 1999; Greenberg & Hofschire, 2001).
The most distinctive feature of Internet pornographic materials is their capacity for digital interactive formats that allow for real-time, ongoing interactions with audience, a feature that is totally absent in traditional channels of Internet pornography. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Internet has become an important channel for sexual surfing, downloading, and communication. There are various studies that have examined negative effects of Internet pornography on men’s behavior toward women.
High and medium interactivity with Internet pornography was found to negative effect of dehumanizing Internet pornography, contributes to men’s acceptance of the rape myth, likelihood of forcing women into unwanted sexual acts and inspires men’s sexual callousness toward women (S. Heider, D. , & Harp, D. 2000;). These findings explain the reason behind male dominance in use of Internet pornography, and why pornographic scripts are heavily oriented to present women as sex objects and promote men’s insensitivity and sexual callousness toward women (S. Heider, D. , & Harp, D. 2000).
The range and extent of Internet Pornography affecting behavior and attitude respondent is not only based on the exposure amount involved. The psychological makeup of individual also determines how the same content would determine behavior or reaction of people seeing the material (Cooper et al, 1999; Greenberg & Hofschire, 2001). The Sexual Behavior Sequence explains that sexually explicit materials available on Internet causes recession in a person’s self-regulation that takes place in part as a function of an individual’s erotophobic or erotophilic disposition guiding their response to Internet sexuality.
Erotophilic individuals are marked by enjoying Internet pornography and it is observed that they have tendency to incorporate message from content available on Internet sexually explicit materials into their sexual fantasy, imagination, ultimately translating the online content as part of their normal sexual behaviors. In the expected contrast, Erotophobic individuals, show negative disposition towards Internet pornography consciously avoiding contact with them. By comparision, erotophobic individuals also avoid incorporation of sexual behaviors related to Internet pornography (Fisher, W.
A, Barak, A. 2001) Sexual Behavior Sequence also gives indication to triggers and conditions that cause sexual arousal responses, affective and evaluative responses, informational and expectative responses, and sexual fantasy responses. The effect of Internet Pornographic material is determined by these psychological reactions to t sexually explicit material present, and on the occurrence and nature of preparatory sexual behavior, overt sexual behavior, frequency and intensity of such behavior, and the future contact with such material (Cooper et al, 1999; Greenberg & Hofschire, 2001).
The Sexual Behavior Sequence provides the framework for conceptualizing the complete rang of peoples’ reaction and attitude from exposure to Internet Pornography. It is believed that an individual looking at pornography, views the material in context of their lifetime experience, involving their emotional reaction to sexuality, beliefs about sexual practices and activity, and expectations and imagination related with Internet sexuality.
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