How Porn Changes The Way Teens Think About Sex, And Why We Need Porn Literacy

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“By focusing on the potential harms of pornography alone, we may be distracting ourselves from bigger issues or missing root causes of dating and sexual violence, which are the true public health crises.” - Dr. Emily Rothman.

How does pornography affect the way that teens think about and approach sex? Is there a link between pornography and sexual violence, as many in the media have claimed? Also what’s the most effective way to talk to teens about sex and pornography in the first place? Dr. Emily Rothman thoughtfully addresses these questions and more in the TEDMed video below.

Rothman’s talk is one of the best porn talks I’ve seen because it presents a balanced take on the issue. It’s not an ideologically driven pro-porn or anti-porn take; rather, it’s an attempt to start a nuanced conversation about what we do and don’t know concerning the effects of porn and how we can use that knowledge to inform sex education efforts.

Rothman and I (and most other sex educators and researchers I know) share the belief that porn alone is a pretty bad form of sex education; however, that doesn’t mean that porn itself is inherently bad or that it should be banned. Rather, adolescents need context for understanding porn. And that’s why Rothman has helped to create a pornography literacy curriculum for high school students. The goal of this program is to teach adolescents how to become critical thinkers if and when they do see pornography in order to ensure that they don’t walk away with wrong ideas.

Check out the full video to learn more.

Watch more videos on the science of sex here.

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Image Source: 123RF/Stas Vulkanov

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