The research on internet porn and youth: Couldn’t have said it better myself…

…so I won’t :-). This article from the Chicago Tribune pretty much sums up the lack of research regarding whether viewing online porn impacts young people. The quick answer?  We don’t know. Evidence is contradictory, and research is lacking in anything that can lead us to causality (e.g., do sexually “callous” youth look at porn, or does looking at porn make youth more sexually callous?). So, what we’re left with:

  1. Viewing online pornography is very common among young people.
  2. Some studies link viewing online porn to less than desirable characteristics in youth (such as being socially isolated and using substances)
  3. Online pornography is a lot more graphic than the readily-accessible porn of previous generations.
  4. Despite commonality of online porn viewing, young people report being more sexually conservative than in recent years.

In other words, not much and what we do know leaves us confused. But for now, there is no reason to assume that online pornography is harmful to youth overall (could be harmful for some youth, however). Yet there is no evidence that says it’s helpful, either (doubt anyone would ever get funding and permissions to research that concept).

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2 thoughts on “The research on internet porn and youth: Couldn’t have said it better myself…

  1. I wonder if such surveys are asking the right questions. I could point you to various forums in which young men (by the hundreds) are reporting alarming symptoms from Internet erotica use: sexual performance problems, lack of attraction to real potential partners, uncharacteristic social anxiety and brain fog, morphing sexual tastes that no longer match their sexual orientation. Results of a badly constructive survey might be read as showing they are “more sexually conservative,” when in fact they just aren’t reacting to potential mates normally. The researchers would never know…because they aren’t asking the right questions. Suggest you read some of these self-reports: http://www.yourbrainonporn.com/what-are-the-symptoms-of-excessive-porn-use and http://www.reuniting.info/download/pdf/0TEENS.pdf

  2. Thanks for your post. I agree that some people struggle with pornography usage. But we don’t know why some do and some do not (same thing goes with alcohol, gambling, video games…). What it known is that viewing online sexual materials is so commonplace, that it has become normative (as in, well over half of the population does it). The next step becomes how do we support those who struggle with such viewing while acknowledging that others will be able to experience it without long-lasting effects.

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