Internet Porn Exposure And Online Sexual Expression Aren't Linked, Says New Study

From pundits to parents, everyone has an opinion about the impact of pornography on teens. Does it teach them to have unrealistic expectations in bed? Does it turn them into soulless sex zombies? Does it inspire them to post a ton of sexually suggestive selfies on Instagram and Facebook? While the first two questions remain up for debate, the answer to the final question is, apparently, no.

A new study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking looked into the ways exposure to internet pornography and sexual reality TV influences teens to present themselves sexually on social media. According to previous studies cited by the authors, one in five adolescents shows sexually revealing images on his or her online profile, but little research has been done on what influences this behavior.

Using 2,137 randomly selected subjects between the ages of 13 and 17, researchers in The Netherlands asked adolescents to answer a questionnaire about the reality TV and porn they viewed, and their own internet self-presentation. Using a seven point scale, teens rated how often they watched The Jersey Shore and its British spinoff, The Geordie Shore, as well as how much they looked at different kinds of internet porn.

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The subjects were then asked how often they had uploaded pictures portraying themselves with a sexy gaze, with a sexy appearance, scantily dressed (e.g., bathing suit or underwear), and in a sexy posture. The results showed that exposure to sexual messages in sexual reality television was reciprocally related to sexual self-presentation on social media, but there was no reciprocal relationship between sexual self-presentation online and the consumption of internet pornography. Researchers concluded that mass media is more influential than adult media in this sense, and that both girls and boys are similarly affected. Once again, porn is proven not to be as detrimental to our youth as many might suggest.

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