A porndemic

By Lauren Edwards

It appears that, for some households, Covid led lockdowns have not just been about baking banana bread and binge-watching Netflix. According to a survey by communications regulator Ofcom, half the population of the UK watched online pornography during the pandemic, that’s an estimated 26 million people clicking on adult websites to find something more titillating than Googlebox.

It is estimated that in September 2020, 15 million people clicked onto the adult site Pornhub, 50% of which were men and 16% were women, meaning that the site achieved a larger audience than the BBC News. But to be fair, the BBC News in September 2020 was all about clapping for the NHS and scarce PPE supplies, so you can’t really blame those who felt drawn towards a new kind of visual entertainment.

Three of the most popular pornography sites in the UK; Pornhub, Redtube and YouPorn are all owned by Canadian company MindGeek. However, the online pornography industry in the UK is thought to be largely unregulated and copycat sites are popping up all the time to cash in on this current trend for online gratification.

British homegrown pornography website OnlyFans reported a 75% increase in subscribers last year. They allow individuals to sell their own homemade pornography online in order to share the wealth of this online porn boom. For someone looking to get involved in the home filmmaker business, by providing content to the site, you can charge subscribers around £8-10 a month to view the content.

It has been reported that economic factors caused by the lockdowns may have led people to turn to sites such as OnlyFans to generate an income, in the context of rising unemployment or furlough, and financial uncertainty for many in the UK.

Ofcom

Could this huge spike in pandemic led porn site traffic lend a dark insight into the stress, boredom, and isolation that lockdown life is producing for some people? Or on a positive note, perhaps for those that find it tricky to express themselves sexually, online porn could provide a platform for them to explore this?  

When a person sees pornography, the brain releases endorphins that are 200 more times more potent than morphine and more addictive than cocaine. It also gives you an enormous false sense of wellbeing. It seems like it is really good and satisfies you in the moment. However, it actually leaves you wanting more.

Dr Justin Lehmiller, Psychology Today

Covid rules have also meant that porn film production studios have temporarily closed down and adult performers have moved online to porn sites such as Pornhub, turning their temporary redundancies into a new business venture.

According to a report by Online Nation, UK adults accessed more online porn than their European neighbours. In fact, it is estimated that us Brits spent more than three and a half hours each day on porn sites during 2020, which was an hour longer than Germany and France and 30 minutes more than Spain. To be fair though, we did have a lot of rain last year.

Pornhub claimed that their average UK visitor spent 10 minutes and 20 seconds on the site, which is more of a news summary really, you know the headline catch up on a Sunday afternoon before Countryfile?

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