Study: sexually explicit material has a minimal impact on youth

Sensation seeking, rather than porn viewing, may play a larger role in determining the sexual behaviors of adolescents.

There was a direct association between watching sexually explicit media and a variety of sexual behaviors—in particular adventurous sex and sex that involves the exchange of money—even when a number of other factors were taken into account. However, the association was modest, accounting for between 0.3 percent and 4 percent of differences in sexual behaviors. This indicates that watching sexually explicit media is one of a number of factors that may shape the sexual behaviors of young individuals, 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 behaviors of adolescents and young adults, and that the effects of sexually explicit media on sexual behaviors in reality need to be considered in conjunction with such factors,” Dr. Hald said.


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A new study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine concludes that viewing sexually explicit material only has a minimal impact of the sexual behavior of adolescents. The findings suggest that the practice is just one of many factors that may influence the sexual behaviors of young people.

Gert Martin Hald, PhD, of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and his colleagues conducted an online survey of 4,600 young people aged 15 to 25 years who lived in The Netherlands. The survey found that 88 percent of males and 45 percent of females had watched pornographic material (through the Internet, magazines, videos, television, and/or other media) in the past year.

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