Sex talk with teens must address pornography

Sex educator Liz Walker says parents need to rewrite the discussions they are having with their teenage children about sex, due to the proliferation of Internet pornography.

A report published this week in the Australian Journal of Medicine [1] expressed concern about the relationship between teenagers accessing pornography and risky behaviour.

Internet pornography

The average age a child is first exposed to pornography is 11. Image by jakub_hla/Flickr

The authors reviewed existing studies on adolescents and pornography, including an Australian survey that showed 28 percent of 9 to 16-year-olds had seen sexual material online.  Other surveys (not reviewed in the MJA report) have found that the average age of exposure is 11 years old; and that amongst Australian school students aged 13 to 16 years, 93 percent of males and 62 percent of females had seen pornography [2].

From their review, the authors concluded that young people who reported having visited sexually explicit websites were more likely to:

  • have higher numbers of sexual partners,
  • engage in a wider diversity of sexual practices
  • use alcohol or drugs in association with sexual encounters.

They noted that all these factors have been associated with a higher risk of sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies.

“I speak with counsellors and social workers who are feeling ill-equipped to have these kinds of conversations with kids, so it’s no wonder parents are still trying to catch up”

In response to the report, child and adolescent psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg told MJA Insight that he was concerned that pornography normalised multiple partners and unsafe sexual practices, and that it sent the message that sex has nothing to do with intimacy or love.

The report’s authors recommended that parents and schools continue sex education and open discussion of sexual matters, which they say will assist young people in making decisions and will not increase the likelihood of earlier engagement in sex.

Next: Parents need to talk to their teenagers about pornography

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Comments

  1. In November 2011 on Facebook there was the ‘Sneaky Hat’ event which went viral very quickly. People taking nude self photos with the hat placed appropriately. The police investigated and schools became involved. My kids showed me photos that appeared on their Facebook feeds which led to a good discussion about child porn. The trouble is the many of the images are still visible online for all the world to see, long after the phase is over.

    http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/8377954/sneaky-hat-facebook-craze-investigated

    • Thekids says:

      A good example of something that seemed like a silly or funny idea but they really didn’t think through the consequences.

  2. People don’t realize how porn can affect them. It’s not only desensitizing, it can affect your love life when you’re of age: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201107/porn-induced-sexual-dysfunction-is-growing-problem

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