Internet porn addiction focus of Australia-first study

10 February 2010

In the first study of its kind University of Sydney researchers are investigating how addiction to internet porn affects people's work, finances and relationships.

Some 70 per cent of men and 30 per cent of women access internet porn, according to Dr Gomathi Sitharthan, the researcher behind the study and Deputy Coordinator of the University of Sydney's Graduate Program in Sexual Health.

"Viewing porn online becomes a major problem only when people become so preoccupied that they spend 16 to 18 hours a day doing nothing else but watching porn, with serious impacts on relationships, work, studies, and finance," Dr Sitharthan said.

"In recent years we have seen increasing numbers of clients coming to counselling practices with online porn addictions. They come from all walks of life: students, teachers, lawyers, health practitioners and priests.

"Often they will come to counselling with another problem, and the underlying problem of addiction to internet porn may come out after two or three sessions. The sensitive nature of this issue means many people find it very hard to talk about."

Internet porn addiction is a growing problem partly due to its easy accessibility in the comfort of people's home, according to Dr Sitharthan. But currently there are limited treatment options.

The survey is looking to further our understanding of internet pornography addiction and how best to offer assistance to overcome it.

Dr Sitharthan hopes there will be broader public discussion of the issue, particularly given the recent spotlight on the topics of sex addiction (in the case of Tiger Woods) and the ready availability of explicit images online (in the case of the Macquarie banker caught viewing revealing pictures of Miranda Kerr).

The public are invited to take part in the "The Impact of Internet Pornography survey", which takes about 30 minutes to complete. Click here.

To interview Dr Sitharthan contact Kath Kenny on(02) 9351 2261 or 0434 606 100 or