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Children and young people’s use of pornography

A lot of adolescents watch porn

The Children and Media-study from 2020 shows that almost half of adolescents ages 13-18 have watched porn (Barn og medier 2020, Medietilsynet). The scope increases with age, and is higher among boys than girls. Of those who have watched porn, most report having done so before turning 13.

The porn industry spans the entire world and has billions in turnover every year. In the digital world it is increasingly harder to avoid being exposed to pornography; almost half of adolescents in the ages 13-18 have received advertisements for digital pornography in their inbox or on social media.

Pornography causes gaps in sexual knowledge

Pornography is the main source of information about sex and sexuality for many young people. Some find porn a positive experience; a source of pleasure, exploration and relaxation. This is not necessarily dangerous or hurtful.

At the same time we know many adolescents are affected negatively by pornography. Its portrayal of sexual relations can contribute to adolescents getting the wrong idea about how sex normally happens, and what expectations one can have of sex, a sexual partner and oneself. The porn also doesn’t bother showing the emotional connection between the participants, rather focusing on the sexual acts. This gives a very one-sided account of what sex and a sexual relation both is and can be.

It is more usual than not to see sex between adults portrayed as containing degrees of aggression, both physical and psychological, in online pornography; one party being dominant, degrees of humiliation and protest, and most of it centered around the man’s ejaculation. Adolescents report it being difficult to find pornography portraying “normal sex”.

Discerning fantasy from reality

It can be hard for children and young people to separate the theatrical nature of porn from reality. Misunderstandings about what is – and is not – okay, can easily occur.

Being educated by safe and reassuring adults

It is imperative that children and young people learn about sex and sexuality from safe and reassuring adults. If children and young people are not educated on the subject by adults they trust, they will educate themselves through other means. It is therefore up to the adults to make sure children and young people learn about sex – and pornography – from the right people. Save the Children has written a guide on how adults can talk to children about pornography.


References:

Barn og medier, Medietilsynet, 2020

«Et skada bilde av hvordan sex er», 2020, Røde Kors

“Snakk med oss” 2020, Røde Kors

www.ung.no

Skoleveilederen, 2020

www.itstimewetalked.com, 2021