As a young chap, there was no Internet porn; there were obscured half-naked women dancing to xylophones on “Girls Gone Wild” commercials. I loved those xylophones.

I didn’t try to stay up late so I could watch an over-tanned announcer harass drunk college girls for money, just like I never tried to see those pop-ups of naked women on our ancient computer with dial-up Internet. When I was younger, pornography was something that could be seen as an adult, which intrigued me because if it were viewed as a kid, it was an accident.

Jerry Ropelado, CEO of TechMediaNetwork, reported that the average age of children being exposed to Internet porn is 11 years old.

In 2008 the authors of “Generation XXX: Pornography Acceptance and Use Among Emerging Adults,” conducted a survey on 813 college students from six different campuses. Out of the young men, 86 percent had viewed pornography in the last year, 48.4 percent were viewing pornography weekly and 19.3 percent were viewing pornography almost every day. Out of the young women, 31 percent had viewed pornography in the last year and 3.2 percent were viewing pornography weekly.

          

But online pornography allows you access to every fetish imaginable. Whether you want to enjoy two people in a passionate embrace of love, or a guy in a raccoon costume popping balloons on Snow White’s head while Duke Nukem is watching, it’s (unfortunately) all there. Internet porn is like a Chinese buffet: You don’t really know where all of it came from or who wants it, and some of it will probably make you sick.

Pornography is still very much a taboo subject in America, despite its widespread use. According to ABC News, over 42 percent of male and female Internet users watch porn each month. Couples can earn extra cash by streaming their sexual acts via webcam or by posting amateur videos online — an increasingly popular market for viewers who seek intimacy rather than plastic-surgery-ridden stars.

The increased prevalence of porn does not make it bad — it’s just easier to misuse. An article on WebMD.com said that researchers believe porn addiction is mainly the product of social pressure to shame masturbation, which, for the record, is considered to be healthy for you. Sometimes real sex can lose its allure when the brain associates sexual feelings with your computer.

          

Some students who come to college have had little experience with sex education, whether it’s because of sheltering parents, religious officials or concerned schools. According to a Telegraph article, Australian researchers Maree Crabbe and David Corlett have found that students in high school have been turning to porn for sex education due to the lack of funding in schools, and this can be true for college students as well.

Viewers create unrealistic images of sex in their heads and can be disappointed by the actual experience. Porn is edited to be appealing to viewers, just like television and movies. It’s not real — it’s theatrical sex. Men and women alike can feel intimidated by the unrealistic bodies and moves used in the films, creating anxiety and sometimes avoidance of true intimacy.

As with everything in life, moderation is key. There is no shame in watching porn; lots of people do it. Porn has its time and place, but if the lines between reality and porn blur, then you have a problem.