Porn Use Spiked During the Pandemic


May 26, 2021 Move over, Netflix. You’re not the only video streaming outfit to benefit from the COVID-19 lockdown.

In findings likely to surprise no one, new research shows Americans’ pornography usage spiked dramatically in the early months of the pandemic, as stay-at-home orders limited other types of … outlets.

But the study, which was based on a nationwide survey and XXX website traffic reports, also found that by October, porn use had fallen to pre-pandemic levels. That was true, even for those who reported a big uptick in their erotica viewing habits at first.

What’s more, researchers say they found no evidence the “porndemic” led to significant hikes in problematic behaviors, such as addictive, compulsive, risky, or unhealthy activities. They also uncovered no signs that depression or anxiety levels rose among avid porn users.

“The findings didn’t really surprise us,” says lead researcher Joshua Grubbs, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

“Yeah, people viewed a little bit of extra porn maybe there at the beginning of the pandemic, and then they kind of got back to their normal. That’s exactly what I would have expected.”

In the early months of the pandemic, some mental health experts warned that porn use would skyrocket, and they said that could lead to a rise in psychological and mental health problems already made worse by the coronavirus crisis.

But the new study found no signs those dire predictions were on target.

“There is no indication that people developed massive porn problems, or that porn addiction became a problem for more people,” says Grubbs, a sexual science researcher and addiction specialist. “It just looks like people were bored at home, probably viewed porn initially, and then decided, ‘All right, well, I’ve done enough of that, so now it’s time to go bake some sourdough bread.’”

Justin Lehmiller, PhD, a sex research fellow with the Kinsey Institute who was not involved in the study, says the findings mirror his own work in the field.“In early March last year, there were all of these predictions in the media that porn use and masturbation were going to skyrocket,” says Lehmiller, who hosts a “Sex and Psychology” podcast. “But the data we collected really challenged that. We also found people were less active overall, they were masturbating less, and they were having less partnered sex for all kinds of reasons” unrelated to porn use.





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