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Are people spending less time looking at online porn?

24 May

Some interesting news out of the United Kingdom last week shows that Brits (or is it Britons?) are apparently spending less and less time looking at porn online. According to the United Kingdom Online Measurement Company (UKOM), adult sites are taking up only 2.7 per cent of users’ internet time, which ranks porn at number 10, down from the ninth spot three years ago.

Porn was overtaken in this survey by news, which takes up 2.8 per cent of users’ online time. Social networking, of course, is first. Here’s the full top 10:

1. Social networks/blogs – 22.7%
2. Email – 7.2%
3. Games – 6.9%
4. Instant Messaging – 4.9%
5. Classified/Auctions – 4.7%
6. Portals – 4%
7. Search – 4%
8. Software info/products – 3.4%
9. News – 2.8%
10. Adult – 2.7%

The decline of porn as a percentage of users’ time online has been noted before. A fellow by the name of Bill Tancer, a general manager at online tracking firm Hitwise, in 2008 wrote a book called Click: What Millions of People are Doing Online and Why It Matters. He found that porn’s importance online has been shrinking for more than a decade, dropping to about 10 per cent of searches now from 20 per cent.

“As social networking traffic has increased, visits to porn sites have decreased,” he told Reuters. “My theory is that young users spend so much time on social networks that they don’t have time to look at adult sites.”

That reasoning doesn’t seem too sound. The actual reason for why porn is accounting for less and less online time seems pretty clear to me. As with many other technologies, early adopters took to the internet for sexual uses before the mainstream caught on. Porn, therefore, made up a large and disproportionate percentage of the internet’s overall use in its early days.

As usage grew to where the internet has become fully part of the mainstream, where even children and grannies are using it, it’s no surprise that porn’s size and influence has waned. It’s been the same with virtually every other technology adopted for sexual uses. The VCR, for one, is a fine example – if you look back at video rental and purchase lists in the early 1980s, pornos such as Debbie Does Dallas and Behind the Green Door were routinely in the top 10. You certainly wouldn’t find any such movies on any lists today.

It’s therefore somewhat incorrect to say that people are spending less time looking at adult content online – indeed, it seems counter-intuitive given how much of it is freely available. It would be more correct to say that mainstream internet usage has grown at a much faster pace than adult-oriented uses.

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Posted by on May 24, 2010 in Facebook, internet, online, sex

 

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