Examining Correlates of Problematic Internet Pornography Use Among University Students

J Behav Addict. 2016 Jun;5(2):179-91. doi: 10.1556/2006.5.2016.022. Epub 2016 May 9.


Background and aims The phenomenon of Internet pornography (IP) addiction is gainingincreasing attention in the popular media and psychological research.What has not been tested empirically is how frequency and amount ofIP use, along with other individual characteristics, are related tosymptoms of IP addiction. Methods 105 female and 86 male university students (mean age 21) from Calgary,Canada, were administered measures of IP use, psychosocial functioning(anxiety and depression, life and relationship satisfaction), addictivepropensities, and addictive IP use. Results Men reported earlier age of exposure and more frequent currentIP use than women. Individuals not in relationships reported morefrequent use than those in relationships. Frequency of IP use wasnot generally correlated with psychosocial functioning but was significantlypositively correlated with level of IP addiction. Higher level ofIP addiction was associated with poorer psychosocial functioning andproblematic alcohol, cannabis, gambling and, in particular, videogame use. A curvilinear association was found between frequency ofIP use and level of addiction such that daily or greater IP use wasassociated with a sharp rise in addictive IP scores. Discussion The failure to find a strong significant relationship between IPuse and general psychosocial functioning suggests that the overalleffect of IP use is not necessarily harmful in and of itself. Addictiveuse of IP, which is associated with poorer psychosocial functioning,emerges when people begin to use IP daily.

Keywords: Internet pornography addiction; masturbation; video game addiction.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alberta
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology*
  • Depression
  • Erotica / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Masturbation
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Regression Analysis
  • Students / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications
  • Universities
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

Funding sources: No financial support was receivedfor this study.