My Topics

26 March 2015

Why Parents and Children Should Talk About Pornography

Keywords: media, parents, survey, teens, North America, computer, health, parent-child relationship, tablet, young adults,

A Journal of Children and Media study shows that parent-child conversations about the negative effects of pornography have positive consequences for dealing with porn later in life. Young adults who talked about pornography with their parents during their middle and high school years are less positive about porn and view it less often than those who did not discuss it when they were young.

Take aways

  • Parent-child talk about the negative effects of pornography may prevent children from using porn when they are older by lowering their liking of it. 
  • Despite the fact that boys use porn more often than girls, parents do not talk more about pornography to their sons than they do to their daughters. 
  • Parents and media educators should be aware that it is important to discuss the negative effects of pornography with their children or teens, as this seems to lower later porn use. 
  • This is important, because for some people porn use can have negative side effects, such as feelings of emptiness, low self-worth, misperceptions on sexuality, and relationship problems. 

Study information

  • The question?

    Are parent-child conversations about pornography associated with children’s use of and attitudes toward porn later in life? 

  • Who?

    313 students aged 18-26 of a large Southwestern university (mean age: 20 years old; 69% were female; 64% were Caucasian)

  • Where?

    United States

  • How?

    All students filled out a survey that revealed their pornography use (intentionally looking at pictures/videos or listening to audio material in which people engaged in sex or masturbation) within the past month, and their attitudes toward pornography. Active parental mediation of pornography (i.e., conversations with their parents in which their parents criticized pornography and its use) during their adolescence was assessed as well. 

Facts and findings

  • The more young adults used to discuss the negative effects of pornography with their parents when they were younger, the less positive they were about pornography resulting in reduced pornography use. 
  • Thus, parent-child talk about pornography may prevent children’s future pornography use by lowering their attitudes towards it. 
  • Interesting fact: Although boys looked at pornography more often, parents were no more likely to talk with them about porn than they were to girls. 
  • Critical note: This study does not allow for any conclusions about cause (active parental mediation) and effect (young adults’ use of and attitudes toward pornography). The results only show that active parental mediation of pornography is associated with less porn use and less positive attitudes toward porn later in life.