The end of the year brings a million reflections and round-ups to the Web, collections of what was most popular and most important in the year that was. Among the most important and most shocking year-end roundups I read this week concerned pornography. (I read about the report at a major news site but will risk charges of plagiarism and not link to it since it, in turn, links to porn sites.)
Here is the statistic you and I need to think about: 52% of pornography consumed in the United States this year was consumed on mobile devices; a further 10% was consumed on tablets. This means that almost two thirds of pornography is now being viewed on devices other than desktop computers.
Why is this significant? For at least two reasons.
Did you buy your children an iPod or iPhone or other mobile device for Christmas? You just bought them the major porn-consumption device. So what are you going to do to protect them from it? One of the most popular articles I wrote in 2013 concerned The Porn-Free Family. I will be returning to the subject in the new year, but for now, I want to point out an important fact: Most of our attempts to block pornography and to use accountability software are effective only or primarily on desktop devices. Covenant Eyes is an effective solution on my desktop or laptop, but a rather ineffective solution on my mobile phone. This is the first major takeaway from these new statistics: Your filtering and accountability solution has to account for mobile devices if it is going to be at all effective.
The second one is this: The adoption of mobile devices, and therefore the consumption of pornography through mobile devices, probably trends toward younger people. This is based on an educated guess more than statistics, but I am quite sure it will prove true. The younger you are, the greater the likelihood that you enjoy the privacy and portability afforded by your mobile device when you look at porn. The statistics released by this company conveniently skip all mention of age, but we all know the popularity of pornography among teens—teens who are increasingly in possession of mobile devices. Putting a desktop computer in a public place within the home and installing Covenant Eyes is still a good idea, but it hardly matters if your children carry unsecured iPods with them all the time. That’s like securing your home by locking the front door while leaving all the windows wide open.
Again, I will say more about this in the new year as I attempt to put together an effective plan to guard against pornography and other online dangers. But for the time being, do think and think carefully about the dangerous collision between mobility and pornography.