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A Covenant Against Porn

http[1]Pornography is becoming more prevalent and more accepted not only in the wider culture but also within family life. With primetime TV getting more explicit, hundreds of cables stations to surf, and the internet and digital devices flooded with indecent sites and tweets, parents can feel overwhelmed and helpless.

Parents, don’t despair!

You are still the most important and persuasive influence in your child’s life, yet today you need some social media smarts to be more effective. That’s the message of Ryan Foley, who works for an internet accountability company called Covenant Eyes. A lifelong Catholic, he is responsible for marketing the company’s software within the Catholic community.

Foley, 39, lives in Cumming, Georgia, with his wife of 17 years and their three children. Fathers for Good asked him to share his perspective on the extent of porn on the web, not so much to promote Covenant Eyes, but to inform us all on the issue.

Fathers for Good: How widespread is the problem of web-based pornography?

Foley: We recently compiled a list of pornography statistics that would go a long way to answer this one. Although the exact number of pornography websites is unknown, we do know that 1 in every 8 online searches is for erotic content (2012 stat). An estimated 3 million Americans purchase pornographic material online (2008 stat). It is estimated that by 2015 the mobile porn market will be a $2.8-billion-business (2012 stat). About 93% of boys and 62% of girls see porn online before the age of 18 (2008 stat).

FFG: Is there such a thing as viewing “a little peek of porn” without some negative effect?  What do experts consider addiction to porn?

Foley: Addiction is a nebulous term, used in a variety of ways. The term “sex addiction” or “porn addiction” is not found in the diagnostic literature, but it is a widely accepted phenomenon in the field of psychology. Most therapists have seen a rise in clients with cyber-related issues in their offices.

The real concerning issue isn’t addiction (even though that is distressing), but rather how use of porn over time shapes one’s beliefs and attitudes. Study after study show that use of porn, even little by little over time, leads to exaggerated perception of sexual activity in society, a diminished trust between couples, the belief that sexual promiscuity is natural, the belief that casual sex and premarital sex is preferable, a cynicism about the need for love and affection between intimate partners, a lack of attraction to one’s intimate partner, a lower satisfaction with relational sex, a loss of interest in relational sex, exhaustion of one’s sexual response system, a greater objectification of women, a greater acceptance of “rape myths,” a deeper sense of loneliness, a loss of sexual self-esteem, and a desire to see more pornography and a greater variety of niche pornography.

Even if very few people are clinically addicted to porn, this is not the sexual education we want to be filling our minds with or the minds of our children.

FFG: Are these mostly men, or do women access porn as well?

Foley: Men are far more likely to access pornography than women (543% more likely, to be precise). Women tend to access erotic stories and romance sites, whereas men tend to gravitate toward images and graphic sex sites, through there are exceptions on both sides.

FFG: What effects can a porn habit have on a person, his marriage, his children, his job, his ability to function? 

Foley: Aside from the effects already mentioned above, use of porn raises the risk of divorce enormously. Porn use is associated with a 300% increase of the marital infidelity rate. At last count, 56% of divorce cases involve at least one party having “an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.” Partners of porn users often report feelings of betrayal, rejection, abandonment, loneliness, humiliation, jealousy, and anger.

More than 65% of Human Resources professionals have found porn on employee computers. In one survey, 28% of employees throughout the U.S., the U.K., and Ireland have reported downloading porn at work, and 50% said they had been exposed to adult material while on the job by another employee.

FFG: What help can systems like Covenant Eyes provide?

Foley: Covenant Eyes provides people with a vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to combating online temptation: accountability. One of the reasons why pornography can spread so easily online is because of the anonymity of the experience: no one has to know it is being viewed. Dr. Alvin Cooper says this experience of anonymity is one of the driving forces behind cyber-compulsions. Accountability is what neutralizes this.

When someone you trust receives a report of all the places you go online, it changes your internet habits. That’s exactly what Covenant Eyes provides: it monitors your computer’s web activity, rates all the websites you go to according to age-based ratings (like the same way movies or video games are rated), and then all that information is compiled into weekly reports and sent to a friend, a spouse, a parents, a boss, a mentor — whoever you trust to hold you accountable to your commitments.

See other resources for fighting porn in your life and in your family.


This article originally appeared on Fathers for Good, and is reprinted with permission.