Porn has limited impact on young people’s sexual behaviour, study shows

You can end the moral panic. Video, internet or magazine porn has a direct but limited impact on adolescents’ and young adults’ sexual behaviour, a study shows.

That’s the conclusion of a new study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, which suggest that the practice is just one of many factors that may influence their sexual behaviour.

It has been long considered that viewing sexually-explicit material may negatively affect sexual behaviours, particularly in young people.

Because previous studies on the topic have been narrowly focused or limited in other ways, Gert Martin Hald, of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, led an online survey of 4,600 young people aged 15 to 25 years who lived in The Netherlands.

The survey revealed that 88% of males and 45% of females had watched sexually explicit material (through the internet, magazines, videos, television, and/or other media) in the previous 12 months.

 

Modest link

There was a direct link between watching sexually explicit media and a variety of sexual behaviours – in particular, adventurous sex and sex that involves the exchange of money – even when a number of other factors were taken into account.

But the association was modest, accounting for between 0.3% and 4% of behaviour differences. This indicates that watching sexually-explicit media is one of a number of factors that may shape behaviours, but it may not be as directly linked as previously thought.

“Our data suggest that other factors such as personal dispositions – specifically sexual sensation seeking – rather than consumption of sexually explicit material may play a more important role in a range of sexual behaviours of adolescents and young adults, and that the effects of sexually explicit media on sexual behaviours in reality need to be considered in conjunction with such factors,” Dr Hald said.

“It has been 65 years since Kinsey first published on sexual behaviours, yet researchers continue to avoid this area of science,” explained Journal of Sexual Medicine editor-in-chief Dr Irwin Goldstein. “It is important to have factual information in order to make educated decisions.”

The study’s findings are thought to be of particular use to policy makers and educators concerned with the effects of sexually-explicit media consumption by young people.

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peterbatt

Peter a journalist with 30 years experience of freelance writing, UK national newspaper and magazine production roles, and business development. In 2007, he developed and launched a mainstream-style green consumer magazine in the UK, called GreenerLiving, as a means of promoting sustainable change ‘within the system’. GreenerLiving closed during the post-crash recession, but Peter went on to become managing editor of the international ethical business title, Ethical Performance. However, Peter felt that the CSR sector has not succeeded in changing corporate priorities anywhere near fast enough, and so I decided to leave the treadmill of corporate employment and debt accumulation to focus on my own projects. Now poorer but a billion million times happier, he writes on political, economic and social issues – usually seriously, but sometimes as satire. He's currently writing Psychopath Economics, a book about the logic of social and economic power, belief systems, and the rise and fall of societies. Peter is convinced that ordinary people must educate themselves and exercise their economic leverage if we are to avoid social and environmental destruction.

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