Is porn the new sex ed? Young Americans find it ‘most helpful source’ of information on how to have sex: Study

Most free, online pornography is not there to teach you what you are supposed to do when you are having sex, warn experts


                            Is porn the new sex ed? Young Americans find it ‘most helpful source’ of information on how to have sex: Study
A sizable percentage of young adults consider porn a helpful source of information about how to have sex (Getty Images)

Young adults in the US say that pornography is their best source of information about how to have sex, according to researchers. In a nationally representative survey, a quarter of young Americans in the 18 to 24 age group listed porn as their “most helpful source of information” on how to have sex, reveals analysis. 

“The bad news is that young adults are misunderstanding what porn is there for. Most free, online pornography is there for entertainment and to make money for the creators. It isn’t there to teach you what you are supposed to do when you are having sex,” cautions lead author Dr Emily Rothman, professor of community health sciences at Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH).

According to experts, important physical, psychological, behavioral and social changes occur in adolescence and an important factor about the health of adolescents is the extent of their access to resources that enhance their development. Adolescence also represents a shift where young people begin to rely on their peers more than their parents for information, support and problem-solving. Because of the critical developmental changes that occur in adolescence, ensuring that accurate information and support is available to them is critical, emphasize authors.

An important factor about the health of adolescents is the extent of their access to resources that enhance their development (Getty Images)

“Adolescents, interested in obtaining information about many aspects of their health, are seeking answers to their questions from different sources. Understanding where and to whom teenagers typically turn to for information about their health concerns will help identify where adolescents already ‘are’ when looking for health information and provide clues for cost-effective delivery methods for information and promote the health of this population,” explain investigators. 

Accordingly, for the current analysis, the team, which also includes experts from the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington, used data from the Indiana University-based 2015 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior. They analyzed responses from 357 young adults (18-24 years old) and 324 adolescents (14-17 years old) who said that they had gotten helpful information about how to have sex. Nearly as many young adults and adolescents in the survey reported that they had not gotten any helpful information.

The report analyzed cross-sectional data collected from a US nationally representative survey of individuals ages 14-24 years old on what sources of information they considered to be the most helpful about how to have sex (Getty Images)

 

Among 14-17-year-old respondents, only 8.4% of the adolescents said porn was the most helpful source of information. Instead, the 14- to 17-year-olds were more likely to mention parents (31%) and friends (21.6%) as their top sources of information.

However, for those in the 18-24-year-old age group, pornography was the most commonly endorsed helpful source (24.5%), as compared to other possible options such as sexual partners, friends, media and healthcare professionals. Like their older peers, boys were also more likely than girls to report that porn was their most helpful source of information about how to have sex.

“Less than a quarter said sexual partners were the most helpful source. However, female respondents were much more likely than male respondents to report that their partners were the most helpful source of information about how to have sex. Heterosexual men were most likely to say that porn was their most helpful source of information about how to have sex,” state findings published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Among 14 to 17-year-olds, parents were the leading source of information, followed by friends
(Getty Images)

From a public health perspective, the finding is worrisome that a sizable percentage of young adults consider porn a helpful source of information about how to have sex, note authors.

“The evidence suggests that young adults, and in particular heterosexual men, undervalue talking to their partners about what is pleasurable, too many of them may believe that it’s possible to be good at sex independent of any feedback from a particular sex partner, which is a belief they may be getting from pornography,” says Rothman. She adds, “The good news is that, when parents have conversations with their teenage children about sex, we think that their children are listening and are less likely to see porn as a good source of information.”

The researchers recommend that subsequent studies should investigate the role of pornography in both adolescent and adult sexual development, including why one-quarter of US young adults say that pornography is a helpful source of information about how to have sex and what they think that they are learning from it. “Comprehensive sex education that teaches what I think of as ‘sexual social skills,’ or interpersonal communication about sex, is needed and important, and research that helps us determine how to teach young people how to have fulfilling, safer, consensual sex is crucial,” explains Rothman.

Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.