Porn Through The Ages

Vocativ partnered with Pornhub to look at how preferences change as we get older. (One example: "stepmom" is a popular search term for 20-somethings, but 50-year-olds prefer "massage")

Mar 01, 2015 at 11:13 AM ET

Depending on whom you ask, up to 90 percent of men and 31 percent of women watch porn on a semi-regular to regular basis. And while some research scientists extoll its benefits and others bemoan our increasing “addiction” to pornography, one thing is clear: Humans like to watch porn, and have done so in one form or another since the beginning of recorded time. Just ask our paleolithic ancestors.

In a collaboration with Pornhub, we discovered viewing preferences evolve with age, and not only that, the amount and type of pornography we consume has as much to do with the period of our sexual awakening (searches for “Sasha Grey” vs. “Jenna Jameson”) as it does with general age-related bias (“MILFs” vs. “grannies”). But that’s just the beginning.

Young Men Watch The Most Porn. Duh.

Based on Pornhub’s data, porn never goes out of style, with everyone from 18-year-olds to the 65+ set indulging. (There are no doubt more than a few minors accessing pornographic sites, but the data for that demographic is notoriously unreliable.)

But from the available data, it’s clear that the younger you are, the more likely you are to view porn. The 18-24 population accounts for 31 percent of all porn accessed on Pornhub, followed closely by ages 25-34 with a 30-percent share. Things drop off sharply after this and gradually decline as we age. The average age for men who watch porn is 36 and women is 34.

What’s particularly notable is the gender breakdown: Men, as a rule, watch more porn and dominate every age category; but proportionally, females ages 18-to-24 watch 5 percent more porn than their male counterparts.

Porn Is Popular Around The World …

You can find porn watchers anywhere, but depending on where you are in the world, the average age of the consumer fluctuates. Japan has a fairly astonishing average user age of 41.1. At 35.5 years, the U.S. is just above the global average—and more than five years above India’s average viewer of 30.3 years. Keep in mind, though, that more than half of India’s population is under the age of 25.

Within the U.S., the data shows age-related trends among states: Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont have the highest proportion of older folk who enjoy visual aids; Texas, North Dakota, Nebraska and Utah boast the most porn-loving younger people.

The Most Popular Porn

And now for the million-dollar question: What are these folks, young and old, searching for?

Of course, there are search-term mainstays when it comes to heterosexual pornography: “lesbian,” “stepmom,” “teen,” “MILF,” “regular moms.” But certain terms demarcate clear age preferences. “Squirt,” for example, is the fifth most-searched word for 18-to-34 year olds, but falls off the map completely for older categories. At the same time, “massage porn” is in the top-5 most-searched words for the 45-to-65+ groups, but holds no interest for younger crowds.

Looking at comparative search terms offers a pretty clear look into the sexual psyche of the age brackets. Hentai and porn stars get 18-to-34-year-olds going, whereas there is a lot of swinging, wife swapping and cuckolds in the mix for viewers aged 35 to 54. The 55+ set are plainly uninventive, cornering the market of the simple search term “nude.”

Porn On An iPhone—That’s New

Many of us are on our phones 24/7, and they’re apparently popular for porn watching, too. For 18-to-44 year olds, smartphones are the most commonly used device for accessing Pornhub clips (tablets account for the minority of all sex-related surfing), while laptops aren’t utilized as much as one would think—only in the 45-to-65+ group do they take the lead.

Perhaps the most surprising of all of the data surfaced by Pornhub is average time per user– it’s not as long as you might think. Pornhub’s average time on site is nine minutes and 16 seconds, and the range between age groups is pretty tight: 18-year-olds click off after eight minutes and 51 seconds; 65+ users taking their relative time, at 10 minutes and one second; and 55-to-64 year olds surf for the longest, at 10 minutes and three seconds.