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Teens Much Less Likely to View Porn if Parents Express Negative Views on Use

Parents who are critical of pornography can potentially decrease their teen children’s involvement in pornography consumption during early adulthood, according to recent findings from an American research team.

A small but significant number of people who consume pornography in person or over the Internet will eventually develop symptoms of sex addiction or cybersex addiction. In a study published in early 2015 in the Journal of Children and Media, researchers from Texas Tech University sought to determine if parents who express negative views on pornography to their teenage children can reduce the chances that those children will become pornography users during the early stages of adulthood. These researchers concluded that negative parental opinions of pornography exert a substantial influence on patterns of pornography consumption and teen porn addiction among young adults.

Pornography and Sex Addiction

Pornography is a famously loosely defined concept that covers any printed, visual or audio-based material designed primarily to appeal to our sexual instincts. The term also applies to websites that feature material designed to have a primarily sexual appeal. Most adult pornography consumers don’t experience a related decline in their general well-being or ability to maintain a stable daily routine. However, a small number of pornography consumers will develop damaging patterns of use consistent with the presence of pornography addiction or cybersex addiction, two potential manifestations of sex addiction. Pornography addiction and cybersex addiction overlap to a significant degree. However, not all people addicted to pornography rely on the Internet to obtain the material they view. Conversely, not all people affected by cybersex addiction use the Internet specifically to access pornographic material.

Sex addiction, pornography addiction and cybersex addiction do not have universally accepted definitions in the U.S. However, a substantial body of research has revealed likely core symptoms of these conditions, and doctors can use screening tools to identify people probably affected by the relevant symptoms. Specific screening tools used to detect pornography addiction and cybersex addiction include the Pornography Craving Questionnaire, the Internet Sex Screening Test and the Cybersex Addiction Test.

Young People and Pornography Addiction

Just like older adults, most young adults who consume pornography don’t experience any significant related downturn in their sense of well-being or ability to function. However, also like their older counterparts, a relatively small number of young-adult pornography consumers will develop detectable symptoms of pornography addiction. The ready availability of pornography over the Internet means that teenagers and young adults today probably have greater and more diverse access to sexually explicit material than any other previous generation. In at least a certain number of cases, such saturated access may help foster an addictive relationship to pornography that forms before the brain fully develops some of the higher-level thought processes that typically decrease the odds of acting in unusually impulsive or reckless ways.

Influence of Parental Attitudes

In the study published in the Journal of Children and Media, the Texas Tech researchers used information gathered from 313 participants between the ages of 18 and 26 to explore the influence that parental attitudes toward pornography expressed during their children’s adolescence have on those children’s typical patterns of pornography intake in young adulthood. Each participant completed a 110-item questionnaire that included topics such as the opinion of pornography expressed by a parent while he or she was a teenager, the amount of pornography he or she consumes on a regular basis and the attitude he or she holds toward pornography use. The researchers focused much of their attention on the frequency with which parents expressed negative views on pornography during their children’s teenage years.

After analyzing the questionnaire results, the researchers found that young adults whose parents expressed negative views on pornography when they were teenagers have a substantially lower chance of consuming pornography than young adults whose parents didn’t express negative views on pornography. They also concluded that, for any given young adult, the importance of parental views on pornography is strongly influenced by that individual’s own attitudes on pornography consumption. In addition, the researchers concluded that having a parent with a negative view of pornography can help ease some of the mental/emotional pain young adults feel when they have a partner who continues to consume pornography in the context of a relationship.

The study’s authors note that teenage boys and teenage girls are roughly equally as likely to have a parent who overtly expresses a negative view of pornography, even though teen boys actually consume pornography substantially more often than teen girls.

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