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P*rn Sites Block Access to NC Users Following Age Verification Requirement

This past summer, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a measure entitled the “Pornography Age Verification Act” or “PAVE Act” via an amendment to House Bill 8. As the title implies, this requires users of pornographic websites to provide some form of age verification, such as an I.D., before they can access pornographic materials. The bill was passed almost unanimously, gaining support from both parties, and is set to take effect on January 1st, 2024. In protest, sites like Pornhub have blocked all access to users in North Carolina, claiming the new law will “put children and [users’] privacy at risk.”

According to a message posted on the Pornhub website, “The safety of our users is one of our biggest concerns. We believe that the best and most effective solution for protecting children and adults alike is to identify users by their device and allow access to age-restricted materials and websites based on that identification. Until a real solution is offered, we have made the difficult decision to completely disable access to our website in North Carolina.”

North Carolina joins at least seven other states in passing age verification laws, including Texas, Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas, Utah, Mississippi, and Montana. Pornhub has cut off access in several of these states, and in Louisiana, where they have not cut off access, their traffic has reduced by 80%.

The Reasons for the Age Verification Laws

Pornography is riddled with dangerous side effects, especially for children, and many are starting to take notice. Pop singer Billie Eilish shared her experience with porn in an interview, saying, “I think porn is a disgrace. I used to watch a lot of porn, to be honest. I started watching porn when I was like 11.” She adds, “I think it really destroyed my brain and I feel incredibly devastated that I was exposed to so much porn.” Some say that this interview was what prompted the movement towards the age verification laws.

Unfortunately, Billie’s story is not abnormal. Common Sense Media released a study finding that 15% of today’s teens first saw porn online by age 10, the average age is 12 years old, and the majority of these were unintentional. Overall, 73% of today’s teens have been exposed to pornography either accidentally or intentionally.

P*rn: A Public Health Epidemic

Pornography has become a pervasive problem across the globe. Pornhub has more users than Netflix or Amazon, and in 2019, the site was visited approximately 115 million times a day. The consequences of this hurt both the users and society as a whole.

Dangers to the Users

As one author writes, “porn is as addictive as smoking, or more, except that what smoking does to your lungs, porn does to your brain.” Here are some of the impacts of porn:

  • Porn can negatively impact relationships;
  • Porn can become habit-forming to the point of interfering with responsibilities;
  • Porn can fuel violence and abuse;
  • Porn harms sexual function and makes people more sexually illiterate;
  • Porn can change a consumer’s brain and what they perceive as ‘normal’;
  • Porn can normalize abuse and abusive behaviors;
  • Porn can fuel mental health issues, exacerbating illnesses like anxiety or depression.

These side effects are only exacerbated in children.

Dangers to Society

In addition to impacting these individuals and, by proxy, those around them, porn is inextricably linked to sexual abuse and human trafficking. Porn companies profit from nonconsensual content, often ignoring victims and their pleas. Virtually every major porn site has had issues with nonconsensual content, abuse, or child sexual abuse material (i.e. child porn). To take it a step further, the pornography industry directly fuels sex trafficking. Fight the New Drug, a nonprofit committed to showing the dangers of pornography, shares the following about this connection:

  • By some estimates, 4.8 million people are trapped or forced into sexual exploitation globally;
  • More than 1 in 5 victims of sex trafficking are children, and because any commercial sex act with a minor is legally defined as sex trafficking, the production and distribution of child sexual abuse material (also referred to as “child pornography”) often qualifies as a form of sex trafficking;
  • According to cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, pornography was the 3rd-most common form of sex trafficking, after escort services and elicit massage businesses.

Sex trafficking generates an estimated $99 billion annually, and the demand for pornography is at least partially responsible for this.

A Pervasive Evil in Our Society

Studies show that porn only produces harm. It is critical that we protect children from experiencing it. It remains to be seen how these age verification laws will affect things long-term, but they are off to a promising start. We pray that these discussions will continue to expose the dangers of pornography and prompt people to take further action to limit exposure to it.

Additional Resources

Learn more about why porn is addictive

Learn more about how porn is connected to sex trafficking

Dangerous Exposure: The Startling Effects Of Porn On Children


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