You see them on people walking down the street. On joggers. On
subway riders. On shoppers at the mall. Men and women, old and
young -- no one is immune. They're Apple iPods, and like many other
electronic gadgets, they seem to have taken over the world.
Considering its ability to put thousands of digital-quality songs
in the palm of your hand, it's easy to see why the iPod has become
ubiquitous. Unfortunately, the video-playing version of the iPod
has become a platform for something else that's far too prevalent:
pornography. And not just photos (although that would be bad
enough), but actual movies.
Steven Hirsch, CEO of the porn-producing Vivid Entertainment Group,
is immensely pleased. "It could be a huge percentage of our
business," he told reporters. "People love watching adult movies
and to be able to carry an adult movie in your pocket is a powerful
tool." A tool cyber-pimps like Hirsch are only too happy to
And so, just in time for Christmas, iPod users have the ability to
download movies that years ago could be watched only by those
willing to patronize some broken-down theater in the seediest part
of town. 21st
century technology meets the world's
oldest profession -- and a society already awash in sexual imagery
becomes a little darker and cruder.
The tide of sexual titillation, in movies and on TV, is impossible
for anyone to miss. Earlier this year, it cropped up in a video
game called "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas." As if the game weren't
bad enough -- the main goal, after all, is to steal cars and shoot
people -- it also contained sexually explicit scenes accessible
with a patch readily available on the Internet.
In the wake of the controversy it caused, the game was recalled.
But few game manufacturers are contrite: Another video game staple,
violence, is served up in garish overdrive this holiday season with
titles that feature cannibalism, such as "F.E.A.R." and "Stubbs the
Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse."
Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn.,
recently teamed up to sponsor legislation that, Sen. Clinton says,
"will empower parents by making sure their kids can't walk into a
store and buy a video game that has graphic, violent and
If only it were so easy to protect children and families from the
damage caused by the many other manifestations of pornography in
our culture. Jill Manning, who served as a visiting social science
fellow at The Heritage Foundation last summer, outlines the social
cost in devastating detail in a
paper she recently presented to a special U.S. Senate
. Her review of the peer-reviewed research on
pornography's impact shows why this scourge affects everyone -- but
One study covers the risks associated with "frequent exposure to
erotica," which Manning lists "because of the potential they have
for shaping sexual development as well as future marital and
- Developing tolerance toward sexually explicit material,
thereby requiring more novel or bizarre material to achieve the
same level of arousal or interest.
- Overestimating the prevalence of less common sexual
practices (e.g., group sex, bestiality and sadomasochistic
- Abandoning the goal of sexual exclusivity with a
- Perceiving promiscuity as a normal state of
- Developing cynical attitudes about love.
- Believing marriage is sexually confining.
- Believing that raising children and having a family is as an
- Developing a negative body image, especially for
According to a study on Internet usage of children by The London
School of Economics, nine out of 10 kids who go online will stumble
across pornography. Let me be clear: That's 90 percent of kids who
will view porn -- most while doing their homework.
Meanwhile, more and more objectionable material is being created
for them to stumble across: As of July 2003, Manning notes, 260
million pages of pornography could be found online -- an increase
of 1,800 percent since 1998.By the end of 2004, there were 420
million pages. And now, thanks to the despicable material available
for anyone with a video iPod (or a Sony Playstation Portable), you
can take it with you anywhere.
Considering the popularity of iPods among kids, who's to say that
won't include the school bus or the schoolyard?
So take steps to protect your family before it's too late. Talk to
your kids about their online habits. Subscribe to an Internet
filter, such as the one at Bsafe Online. Use resources like WebWiseKids
to teach your children to be safe online.
Protecting them from cyber-predators determined to rob them
of their innocence may be the best gift you can give them this
Hagelin is a vice president of The Heritage Foundation and the
author of Home Invasion: Protecting Your Family in a Culture
that's Gone Stark Raving Mad.
First appeared on World Net Daily.