New study reveals the scale of the damage digital porn is causing to young people

The year 2021 is only a few months old, and already new ground-breaking research is adding to the body of evidence we have proving how poisonous pornography is. Last week I wrote a summary of the largest study of online porn to date, released by several British researchers. The study confirmed, once again, that violence is becoming the norm.

Another paper released this month looks at the damage digital porn causes to young people in greater detail. Titled “Psychological and Forensic Challenges Regarding Youth Consumption of Pornography: A Narrative Review” by Aina M. Gassó and Anna Bruch-Granados of the Department of Forensic Psychology at Instituto de Psiquiatría y Psicología Clínica de Barcelona in Spain, the study explains how digital porn is fueling a predilection for sexual violence. From the abstract:

Nowadays, technology has become part of the daily activities of a large part of the population. Many of the activities and development and socialization processes of minors and young people have been transferred to the online world, generating attention and concern from the educational, scientific, and forensic communities. One of the most worrying issues derived from this new online world is the consumption of pornography by teens. The objective of this literature review is to draw attention to the consequences and emotional disturbances derived from the consumption of pornography in young people, as well as the forensic implications of this phenomenon, among which are paraphilias, perpetration, and victimization of sexual assaults, and the development of new forms of online sexual victimization. The main findings suggest that the first contact with pornography starts at the age of 8 years old, with important behavioral and psychological consequences, such as hypersexualization, emotional disturbances, and the perpetuation of gender inequality. Furthermore, pornography consumption by youth has been linked to the exacerbation of paraphilias, an increase in sexual aggression perpetration and victimization, and, finally, it has been linked to an increase in online sexual victimization. Implications and future lines of research are discussed.

Porn today, the authors explain, differs from porn several decades ago in a few significant ways:

  1. Image quality: New pornography is based on high-quality recordings that are constantly improving in image quality.
  2. Affordable: New pornography is widely affordable and most of it is completely free.
  3. Accessible: There is a wide and unlimited offering, which can be accessed without restrictions and which can be seen from any device.
  4. Unlimited sexual content: Sexual practices displayed in “new pornography” have no limits, including risky sexual practices or even illegal ones.

This, of course, has led to porn use becoming ubiquitous even among adolescents and pre-teens. We have essentially inaugurated an enormous social experiment in which an entire generation was raised on this material and are only now discovering some of the consequences. More from the study:

A recent study stated that 40.7% of participants reported having suffered negative consequences related to pornography consumption, either at a personal, social, academic, or professional level. Many authors have pointed out that pornography consumption in minors is associated with diverse negative consequences. For example, Burbano and Brito stated that watching pornography has a direct impact on the psychosexual development of teenagers, creating misleading and inaccurate educational models regarding sexuality. In addition, Peter and Valkenburg found that watching pornography as a teenager is associated with the appearance and increase of risky sexual behaviors, such as having unprotected sex, having sexual intercourse with many partners, or an increase in sexual aggression perpetration and victimization. Additionally, Burbano and Brito showed that consuming pornography at early stages, especially as a minor, is associated with new forms of online sexual victimization, such as sexting or online grooming.

Furthermore, the literature has shown a link between the consumption of pornography by young people and forensic and legal implications. Recent studies have highlighted an association between an early consumption of sexually explicit material and the appearance and exacerbation of paraphilias such as voyeurism and exhibitionism. Moreover, the research has pointed towards a modulated relationship between early consumption of pornography and compulsive consumption and an increase in sexual aggression perpetration by males and sexual aggression victimization in females. Finally, recent findings suggest a link between early consumption of pornography and increased engagement in online sexual behaviors, such as sexting, that can lead to further online sexual victimization, such as sextortion or online grooming. 

I suspect that most readers of this blog will find this unsurprising. Perhaps for some of you, this might be a renewed reason to stop watching pornography for good. Anyone who wishes to get free, or wants to help someone else get free, please visit Covenant Eyes to get all the help you need.

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