Cape Town - New research has found that adult content consumption is growing rapidly on mobile devices.
According to Juniper Research, 250 million people will use their mobile phones or tablets to access adult content by 2017, an increase of more than 30% on current levels.
Adult content providers have recognised the demand for services on mobile devices and sites are often specifically optimised for mobile devices.
The Mobile Adult Content: Monetisation, Technologies & Legislation 2013 – 2018 report found that mobile devices will become the key distribution channel for adult content, especially as these devices are often personal, ie, they are usually exclusively used by one individual.
Computers, on the other hand, are more likely to be shared between users, increasing the likelihood that adult content will be discovered by unintended users.
The research company said that adult content would continue to migrate to mobile devices, especially as users subscribed to specific services.
"Whilst Juniper expects the total number of users of both desktop and mobile adult content to remain broadly consistent, we expect to see continued migration to smartphones and tablets, as more enhanced, tailored content makes its way onto these personal devices," said report author Siân Rowlands.
In Europe and the UK, some operators impose blocks on adult content in order to restrict use, but the report found that such content is usually accessed through Wi-Fi networks where content blocks are unlikely to exist.
Many are primarily concerned that children are able to access adult content and the growth of smartphones could be viewed as an enabler, especially as declining parental supervision leaves children with unfettered access to the web.
According to Enough is Enough, children in the US begin consuming hardcore pornography online at the age of 11 and 80% of 16-year-olds regularly access pornographic content.
Some estimates put the porn industry worldwide at $97bn, indicating that it's a big business.
In the SA, the problem of children accessing adult content is further exacerbated by the practice of sexting. The images and video are then widely distributed in social networks.
Experts have argued that children need direct guidance on how and what content is appropriate to share online.
"Before a child gets a phone, they need to have a very clear understanding about what 'sharing' something online means. It's not private or confidential and never will be," social media consultant for Afrosocialmedia Samantha Fleming told News24.
She said that users should always assume that content could be public, despite being posted to a closed circle of friends on social networks.
"My golden rule is always: If you are happy to stand up with a megaphone in front of a crowd of 500 people and share this, then you can put it on Facebook, Twitter, Mxit, Whatsapp or BBM. Otherwise, just don't go there."
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