Researchers have found a link between accessing porn at a younger age and suffering from mental health problems.
The study, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health surveyed 941 participants aged 15-29 to determine how access to porn was affecting this demographic.
Teen Porn Linked With Mental Health Problems
The study states: “A key public health concern regarding trends in porn exposure is that porn may affect the sexual socialisation of young people by influencing their understanding of which sexual behaviours and attitudes are normative, acceptable and rewarding.”
The study found that boys were viewing porn for the first time at age 13. For girls, first exposure was typically around age 16.
All of the male participants had viewed pornography and most of the female participants had seen it as well.
Greater Access To Porn In Recent Decades
This is a relatively new phenomenon, with this generation being the first to grow up with easy access to porn from such a young age. Experts fear this could affect young people’s understanding of sex and relationships.
Pornography has changed in recent years. The availability of pornography online has led to an increase in extreme porn with many clips including violence against women, anal sex and nonconsensual sex.
Many schools are failing to provide sex education that counters and addresses the effects of porn exposure.
For many young people, the sex education lessons at school come too late, with lessons given to older students who may already have been frequently exposed to porn. Of the young men who completed the survey, 80% said they watched porn every week.
What Does This Mean For Teens Increase Mental Health Problems?
The study found a link between frequent exposure to porn and mental health problems in our youth, though the study did not determine why this was.
Researchers also concluded young people who don’t identify as heterosexual were more likely to access porn at a younger age and a higher frequency.
The researchers stated: “The findings of this study have important implications for designing sexuality education. Results suggest that the majority of young people have viewed porn and that almost all young men are frequently accessing porn. Therefore, it is vital that porn is addressed as part of high school sexuality education programs.
“Pornography is first watched from a young age, so age-appropriate educational programs need to be implemented from formative years of high school, if not sooner.
“Such programs should not be heteronormative, as our results show that those identifying as GLBQQ+ watched porn more frequently and from a younger age.
“It should also not presume that young women will not watch or enjoy porn. Education programs should address issues such as the prevalence and practice of heterosexual anal sex in the real world as opposed to in pornography.”
Talk About Teen Porn
It is clear porn is having an impact on how young people learn about sex and, with the worrying content of some online videos, it could be negatively shaping how they view sex and relationships.
It is important to speak to your children about porn before they see it, which may be sooner than you think.
Children need to understand the sex shown in most porn videos isn’t really what sex looks like in a loving, healthy relationship.
Have you spoken to your children about pornography? For tips on how to do so, check out our article Porn: The Talk You Must Have With Your Kids.