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Porn a leading source of information about sex for young people in US — study

Porn a leading source of information about sex for young people in US — study

A quarter of 18-to-24-year-olds in the United States said that pornography is their most helpful source of information about sex. Unlike adolescents, who preferred to turn to their parents for information, young adults looked to porn to learn about how to have sex.

Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health and Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington studied the different sources of information used by adolescents and young adults when learning about sex. For that, they used data from the 2015 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, analyzing responses from 357 young adults age 18 to 24 and 324 adolescents age 14 to 17 who said that they had got helpful information about how to have sex.

Published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, the results reveal that the younger group would above all turn to their parents for such information, then secondly to their friends. Just 8% of adolescents age 14 to 17 said that they used pornography to find answers to their questions about sex. Note, however, that when parents and adolescents don’t have helpful conversations on the subject, teens turn to media (23.4%) and sexual partners (12.8%) for information.

“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,” explains Dr. Emily Rothman, the study’s lead author.

But this isn’t necessarily the case for young adults in the 18-to-24 age group. No less than a quarter of those polled said that porn was their most helpful source of information about how to have sex. Porn comes ahead of sexual partners, as well as friends, parents, media and health professionals.

“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,” Rothman adds.

However, the study revealed differences between men and women. Females were more likely to see their sexual partner as the most useful source of information about how to have sex, while males were more likely to turn to porn for information.

The findings may appear “worrisome” from a public health standpoint, explains Rothman, who hopes that the research will help improve the teaching of sex education to this age group. RGA