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Internet Porn Shaping the Minds of Youth

Last Updated: July 15, 2021

Gail Dines, probably the best-known anti-porn feminist today, was interviewed on CNN recently about her new book, Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality.

What I appreciate about Gail, aside from the fact that she has decades of experience in this area, is her strong message about porn shattering the dignity of women. Her research highlights the frightening direction the culture of pornography is going as fans demand more and more debasing and violent material.

Gail mentions that the average age of exposure to pornography today is 11 years old. In a recent survey of more than 16,000 college males, 82% said they had been exposed to pornography by the age of 14. In same survey of more than 11,000 college females, 52% said they had been exposed to pornography by the age of 14 (Michael Leahy, Porn University). Studies reveal why this is significant:

  • A study of more than 2,000 adolescents found that frequent exposure to sexually explicit online material was associated with greater sexual uncertainty and more positive attitudes toward uncommitted sexual exploration (i.e., sexual relations with casual partners or with sexual partners in one-night stands).
  • In The Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers documented the effects of frequent exposure to pornography in adolescents. In general, those exposed to pornography had (1) developed a tolerance to the more offensive/bizarre sexual material, (2) exaggerated ideas of sexual activity in the broader culture, (3) experienced a diminished trust between themselves and intimate partners, (4) abandoned the idea of sexual monogamy and marriage, (5) developed the belief that sexual abstinence was unhealthy, and (6) become cynical about love and the need for affection.

Given the degrading pornography teens are often exposed to online, it is not surprising that pornography would have an impact on an adolescent’s developing sexuality.

  1. Brad

    Some would say that porn is actually empowering to women. It is the women of the industry that have created an atmosphere where they out-earn men and earn nearly 80% more. They own the web sites, studios, brands, etc. This is an innovative industry where the women have taken charge and earned millions while it is ultimately the men who have become “scenery”.

    As far as exposure to pornography in children, it really comes down to parenting. Whatever happened to sitting down and talking with your children about what’s okay to look at and why. Remember the birds and the bees? I suppose we don’t have to worry about that any more with the advent of Covenant Eyes. Apparently having engaging, fruitful, conversations with our children is being replaced simply by censoring what they see . . . instead of instilling values in them.

    The statistics on people abandoning monogamy hold absolutely no water. Also, the idea that abstinence needs to be touted as “healthy” and some sort of miracle drug for our porn-obsessed society is ridiculous. There needs to be ample education in schools and by parents to shape what our youth think . . . not locking them into a cube. They’ll eventually be exposed to the material later and, depending on their upbringing, could find even worse consequences when seeing that they were locked out of before.

    Perhaps the author of this post needs to research the idea of “discovery” in psychology.

    • Luke Gilkerson

      @Brad – I thought what you said was interesting: “I suppose we don’t have to worry about that any more with the advent of Covenant Eyes. Apparently having engaging, fruitful, conversations with our children is being replaced simply by censoring what they see . . . instead of instilling values in them.” Actually, the reverse is true about our services. Because we highlight our Accountability software, not filtering alone, this enables parents to have the kind of informed and relevant discussions you mentioned. Filtering alone is simply not a good answer at all. Putting up roadblocks (without real guidance) only leads kids to explore other avenues. Like you said, locking them in a cube isn’t the answer, and that’s exactly what our services promote: good conversations and relationships, not just a technological quick-fix for our porn fears.

      I also agree that touting abstinence as a miracle drug for our porn obsesses society is foolish. That’s why we don’t promote that message here. Sex should be celebrated as a beautiful thing, reserved for the intimacy and oneness of marriage. We cheapen sex when we turn it into something captured by pixels.

      I’d like to see more about the statistics “holding no water.” What do you mean?

      While I agree with you that some people say that porn empowers women, I would disagree with those people. Yes, of course women own porn websites and make money from the industry. But since when does making money equal true empowerment? Gail Dines’ point is that in a porn-saturated society women (and men also) are dehumanized and rated by the size, shape, and harmony of their body parts. I’m reminded on Naomi Wolf’s article, “The Porn Myth,” about how porn is essentially decreasing men’s libido for real women. She says, “For the first time in human history, the images’ power and allure have supplanted that of real naked women. Today, real naked women are just bad porn.” No matter what few women are making money by prostituting themselves and other women on screen, I find it hard to call that empowerment.

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