Porn Addicts More Likely To Engage In Risky Sexual Behaviors, But 'Porn Literacy' May Help

Porn Literacy
Porn use could lead to more high-risk sexual behaviors. opus moreschi, CC by 2.0

In 2006, the world spent $13.33 billion on pornography, including adult video sales and rentals. Needless to say, pornography is a booming business that gets a bad rap thanks to its “sexually explicit material.” A recent study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking has revealed that the amount of pornography a person watches could indicate their chances for high-risk sexual behaviors.

"This review has uncovered a need for methodological improvements in this area of research," Editor-in-Chief Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, Interactive Media Institute, San Diego, Calif., and Virtual Reality Medical Institute, Brussels, Belgium, said in a statement. "Many findings in the studies, for example, may not be generalizable since they are done on college students."

Researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia conducted a systematic literature review of 17 studies that assessed a link between the amount of pornography use and indicators of high-risk sexual behaviors among adults. High-risk sexual behaviors include casual sex with strangers, lack of condom use, and a higher number of sexual partners. These behaviors have been linked to poor health outcomes, such as an increased risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Seven of the studies included in the review found that Internet pornography was strongly associated with unsafe sexual behaviors, including lack of condom use. Ten studies specifically investigated the link between pornography use (both Internet pornography and unspecific pornography sources) and a higher number of sexual partners. Overall, results showed that men and women who watch more porn also have a higher number of lifetime sexual partners.  

Co-authors of the report Emily Harkness, Barbara Mullan, and Alex Blaszczynski highlighted the potential value of adding “porn literacy” to sexual health education and STD prevention programs. Porn literacy is a person’s ability to analyze and evaluate the pornographic material they view. Above all else, porn literacy is about understanding that porn is fiction and not a documentary.

A similar study published in the Eastern Economic Journal found that the rise of Internet pornography and the decline of young men who are married is anything but coincidental. Researchers gathered data on Internet usage among over 1,500 male participants between the ages of 18 and 35. Internet usage included porn, financial websites, news websites, sports websites, and religious websites. Participants who frequented porn more than any other Internet outlet were less likely married.

Source: Blaszczynski A, Mullan B, Harkness E. Association Between Pornography Use and Sexual Risk Behaviors in Adult Consumers: A Systematic Review. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. 2015. 

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