".XXX" - The Internet's New Red Light District

Randy Hicks

".XXX" - The Internet's New Red Light District

(WNS) -- It’s not likely you’ve heard of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), but this international organization in charge of Internet addresses has just approved a policy that will create what amounts to a red-light district online.

We’re all familiar with the top level domains like “.com”, “.edu” and “.org.” Now, after years of debate, ICANN has approved “.xxx” for porn websites.

So now, for the first time, a specific industry will have its own suffix on the Internet. In this case, it happens to be an industry that exploits women and ensnares thousands of men and even children into a harmful addiction that can ruin lives and relationships.

For starters, the new .xxx domain will significantly increase the amount of porn online since adult websites will not have to give up their current web addresses. Instead, they’ll create new websites with the new suffix, making their content more prevalent and accessible.

Ironically, family groups and the porn industry were united in their opposition to the change. Pornographers didn’t like it because of the additional costs of the domain and the chance that some countries will block the .xxx domain altogether. India has already announced that they will do so.

Those of us concerned about pornography’s impact on individuals and families are troubled because it will further spread the amount of harmful content that is already so pervasive online. Porn isn’t hard to find online, or to unwittingly stumble across, but ICANN is expanding the territory exponentially.

The Internet has forever changed parent’s ability to shield kids from pornography. Today, it’s available on any electronic device that’s connected to the Internet. Computers, laptops, cell phones, iPads – they’re all potential sources. Thankfully, there are some really good filters available, but they’re only effective where they’ve been installed. And the .xxx change means a lot more work for companies making filtering software, since the amount of online porn will double.

Internet pornography is so widespread that the average age of exposure is trending down to somewhere below the age of 10. By the time children reach their teenage years, it’s almost certain they’ve seen it.

Sadly, pornography can have lasting negative emotional effects on children because it interrupts their sexual development and distorts their perceptions of what healthy sexual relationships are at an age when they are unable to process these things maturely. In effect, it stunts the kind of emotional and relational maturity that allows them to interact with members of the opposite sex as something other than sexual objects. As such, it affects the ability of young men and women to establish a relationship on the surer foundation of selfless love, communication and trust. Imagine what this will do to their marriage down the road.

Of course, pornography is consumed by millions of men and an increasing number of women of all ages. And let’s not forget what pornography does. It objectifies men and women – women in particular. It reduces them to body parts to be exploited for personal pleasure without any consideration of who they are as people. That’s the very essence of what sexual abuse is.

Pornography cultivates the lie that sex is a commodity, not an act of intimacy and connection best reserved for the committed bonds of marriage. Marriage is about commitment and self-sacrifice, pornography is about self-centeredness and self-gratification. Many marriages have been torn apart by the addiction and even antagonism toward marriage and family that pornography has wrought.

Everyone who consumes pornography is immersed in an artificial world that distorts reality and relationships.

ICANN’s decision to approve the .xxx domain was a bad one. What is already a huge problem on the Internet will become larger still. We parents face the monumental task of keeping watch over our kids in an ever expanding and increasingly porn-filled world. And we have yet to see its full impact on the families of upcoming generations. 

Randy Hicks is the president of the Georgia Family Council. The Georgia Family Council is a non-profit research and education organization committed to fostering conditions in which individuals, families and communities thrive. For more information, go to www.georgiafamily.org.

Publication date: March 30, 2011

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