Using pornography might contribute to the psychosexual development of some adolescents, according to a recent Journal of Sexual Medicine study.
However, there appear to be differences in use among sexual orientation and gender identity groups.
Past research in this area has been limited, with few studies examining the habits of heterosexual, cisgender (HC) youth and their sexual and gender minority (SGM) counterparts.
Participants of the current study included 2,846 ninth-grade students in Canada. All were at least 14 years old, with an average age of 14.5.
Each participant completed an online survey, answering questions about their sexual orientation, gender identity, and their past and current experiences with pornography.
They were divided into the following groups:
- HC boys (1,166 participants)
- SGM boys (156 participants)
- HC girls (1,136 participants)
- SGM girls (313 participants)
- SGM non-binary (18 participants)
Almost two-thirds of all participants said they had viewed pornography at least once in their lives. By category, the rate ranged from 88.2% for HC boys to 39.4% for HC girls.
Of all the groups, SGM boys were the youngest when they first experienced pornography, with a mean age of 11.58 years. This group also had the highest median porn use frequency: many times per week.
More details are provided in the chart below:
|Group||Percentage of Participants|
Who Had Viewed
Pornography at Least Once
|Mean Age at First|
|Median Porn Use Frequency|
During the Past 3 Months
|HC Boys||88.2%||11.87 years||once a week|
|SGM Boys||78.2%||11.58 years||many times per week|
|SGM Girls||54.2%||12.34 years||once a month|
|SGM Non-Binary||29.4%||12.50 years||once a month or|
less than once a month
|HC Girls||39.4%||12.92 years||less than once a month|
“Results suggest that SGM and HC boys’ pornography use characteristics are rather similar, whereas SGM and HC girls’ pornography use patterns may be considered different presumably because of the varying underlying motivations (e.g., using pornography to confirm sexual orientation),” the authors wrote.
They added that SGM girls may use pornography because they cannot easily find relevant information on sexuality through channels like sex education, parents, and friends.
The authors also noted that girls’ and boys’ perceptions of pornography might explain why the boys’ use was higher, as girls might have more negative views.
Several limitations were acknowledged. It was not known whether pornography use was problematic or intentional. Some participants might have considered nudity in art as pornography. And some might still be exploring their sexual orientation and gender identity.