Research released this week found that more Australian teenagers are viewing porn and doing so at a younger age than ever before. The study conducted by Burnet Institute researcher Dr Megan Lim found almost all young Australian men frequently watched porn and that this behaviour was starting at younger age, 13 for boys, 16 for girls and at quite high frequency
Dr Lim surveyed more than 940 young people found that around 80 per cent of young men said they watched weekly, and among the women who watched pornography, nearly two-thirds viewed at least monthly.
More worryingly she discovered a link between pornography use, mental health problems and becoming sexually active at a younger age. The problem is that what the researchers they have uncovered is an association between watching pornography more frequently and poor mental health, though Dr Lim can’t say from this study if one is causing the other.
The study found young people identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer watched pornography more frequently and from a younger age.
It has been said for a while that online porn is Australia’s leading sex educator and this study has important implications for parents and schools as it is reasonable to assume that this must be having an influence on young people’s sexual development. The problem is that what our young people are watching has nothing to with respectful relationships.
At the Family Peace Foundation we believe that we need to challenge the facets of our culture that support the attitudes, behaviours and practices that are contained in this explicit online material. Pornography has nothing to do with the values that the Foundation cherishes such as love, intimacy and most importantly consent. It also doesn’t feature safe sexual practices, it puts zero emphases on emotional connection, and creates expectations about people’s bodies that are completely unrealistic.
The Family Peace Foundation believes that respectful relationships education builds the skills of young Australians to reject aggressive behaviour, sexualisation, discrimination and gender stereotyping, and develop equal and respectful relationships. It’s challenging to talk to young people about sex and relationships, but this new research has demonstrated what has changed in recent years is young people’s access to a wider and wider range of messaging on sex and relationships, online and in popular culture, much of which is far from positive.
To learn what to say to your children about pornography go to www.itstimewetalked.com.au