THE PORN PHENOMENON: Josh McDowell Ministry and Barna Group Unveil Key Findings

A COMPREHENSIVE, GROUNDBREAKING NEW SURVEY ON AMERICANS, THE CHURCH, AND PORNOGRAPHY: Impact of Internet Pornography on American Population and the Church

BY: Josh McDowell Ministries which commissioned the Barna Group to do this study (New York, NY – January 19, 2015).

Father and son sitting together

Father and son sitting together

In the most comprehensive, ground-breaking, in-depth and wide-ranging study to date on pornography among the American population and the Church — research reveals a younger exposure to pornography, increased desensitization and an escalating usage of pornography. These results are particularly evident among teens and young adults, who are watching porn and seeking it out more than any other generation.

“Pornography violates all relational values between the individual and self, the individual and society, the unity of our families and our moral fabric and fiber as a nation,” said Josh McDowell. “When we objectify and demean life by removing the sanctity of the human person, our future is at risk.”

The findings were announced at a news conference on Tuesday, January 19th at 10 AM Eastern time at The Omni Berkshire Hotel, 21 East 52nd Street in New York City.

KEY FINDINGS IN THE STUDY:

  1. TEENS AND YOUNG ADULTS

Twice as many young adults ages 25-30 first viewed pornography before puberty than did the next generation—Gen X.

More than one quarter (27%) of young adults ages 25-30 first viewed pornography before puberty.

  • This is significantly higher than the GenX cohort, of which only 13% started viewing porn before puberty

Teens and young adults have a cavalier attitude toward porn

  • When they talk about pornography with friends, 90% of teens, and 96% of young adults say they do so in an either neutral, accepting, or encouraging way.
  • Only one in 20 young adults and one in 10 teens say their friends think viewing pornography is a bad thing.

Teens and young adults consider “not recycling” more immoral than viewing pornography.

  • Less than one-third (32%) say viewing porn is “usually or always wrong” compared to the more than half (56%) who say not recycling is “usually or always wrong”

Young adults are watching more porn and seeking it out more than any other generation.

  • Among ages 13-17: 8% daily; 18% weekly; 17% once or twice a month
  • Among ages 18-24: 12% daily; 26% weekly; 19% once or twice a month
  • Among ages 25-30: 8% daily; 17% weekly; 20% once or twice a month

And their friends are too:

  • Half of young adults say “most” (32%) or “all” (17%) of their friends regularly look at porn. An additional 21% say about “half” their friends do.

Nearly half of young adults say they come across porn at least once a week—even when they aren’t seeking it out.

  • Whether they are seeking it out or not, 16% of young adults say they come across porn daily and 32% do so weekly; an additional 23% say they do once or twice a month.
  • 8% of teens say they come across porn daily and 21% do so weekly; an additional 21% say they do so once or twice a month.

Teenage girls and young women are significantly more likely to actively seek out porn than women over age 25.

  • 33% of women, ages 13-24 seek out porn at least once a month compared to 12% of women over age 25

Most teens are “sexting” – either on the receiving or sending end of sexually explicit images.

  • 66% of teens and young adults have received a sexually explicit image and 41% have sent one (usually from/to their boy/girlfriend or friend)
  1. PASTORS / THE CHURCH

70% of Christian youth pastors have had at least one teen come to them for help in dealing with porn in the past 12 months

Most often, those kids were:

  • high school boys (92%)
  • middle school boys (57%)
  • high school girls (23%)
  • middle school girls (10%)

21% of youth pastors and 14% of pastors admit they currently struggle with using porn.

  • About 12% of Youth Pastors and 5% of Pastors say there are addicted to porn
  • 87% of pastors who use porn feel a great sense of shame about it
  • 55% of pastors who use porn say they live in constant fear of being discovered

3. GENERAL POPULATION / ALL ADULTS

Half of daily users watch porn for fun

  • 54% of people who actively seek out porn on a daily basis, do so because “it’s just fun.”

Pornography has gone almost completely digital.

  • 71% of adults, 85% of teens and young adults who have viewed pornography did so using online videos
  • Magazines, graphic novels, on-demand videos and cable or rented/purchased DVDs have almost completely lost the market share, with each scoring less than 10% (aside from a slightly higher percentage of 50+ adults using DVDs)

“I know it when I see it.” Porn is notoriously difficult to define. So, how do Americans define it? Turns out, it’s more a question of function than form. If it’s used for sexual arousal, it’s porn. Simple as that.

When asked the question, “What makes something porn?” The top two reasons given were:

  • 70%: if it’s watched/listened to/or read specifically for the purpose of sexual arousal
  • 60%: if you masturbated while watching/listening to/or reading it

A wide-ranging, nationally-representative audience of nearly 3,000 participated in four online studies, including in-depth surveys among the general population, American teenagers, Christian pastors and the Christian church.

The research study was conducted by Barna Group, a visionary research and resource company focused on the intersection of faith and culture. The study has been commissioned by Josh McDowell Ministries, a Cru ministry [Campus Crusade for Christ]  based in Plano, Texas.

Presenters at the news conference were: David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group (https://www.barna.org/); Roxanne Stone, editor in chief of Barna Group; and Josh McDowell, founder of Josh McDowell Ministry (http://www.josh.org/).

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