Most Boys Who View Porn Think It's Realistic, And More Reasons We Need Better Sex Education

Thought it was pretty obvious that mainstream porn is nothing like sex IRL? Not to everyone. In fact, most boys aged 11-16 who have viewed porn think it's realistic, new research finds, as do nearly 40 percent of girls the same age. The research came from Middlesex University and was commissioned by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and the children's commissioner. They surveyed 1,001 young people from 11-16, and also looked at online discussion forums and discussion groups. Over half of those surveyed had viewed pornography and, according to The Guardian, 53 percent of boys who viewed porn felt it was a realistic depiction of sex, while 39 percent of girls who viewed porn thought the images were realistic. That's worrying. And the idea that mainstream porn may be shaping people how young people view sex is an issue.

"As the founder and CEO of MakeLoveNotPorn.tv, Cindy Gallop, first pointed out in her 2009 TED talk, our society's inability to talk openly and honestly about sex combined with the ready availability of free hardcore porn online has led to porn becoming today's default sex education in not a good way," Sarah Beall, curator and community manager at MakeLoveNotPorn.tv, a website where users can share their #realworldsex videos, tells Bustle. "The mission of MakeLoveNotPorn can be summed up in three words: talk about it. As in, don't just talk to your children about sex but be prepared and willing to have a conversation that addresses how the sex you see in porn often isn't the same as the sex people have in their everyday lives."

What's even more worrying is how a lot of children are being exposed to it — and the lack of sex education that accompanies it. Here's what else the survey found: 

1. Children Were More Likely To Stumble Across It Than Look For It

[Embed]

It's such a confusing thing for children as young as 11 to be stumbling on without context, but while only 19 percent of children searched for it deliberately, 28 percent had come across it online, mostly through pop up ads.

2. But Boys Were More Likely To Want To Search For It

[Embed]

While 59 percent of the boy viewers saw it by choice, only 25 percent of girls had viewed it deliberately

3. ... And To Emulate It

[Embed]

Nearly half of the boys — 44 percent, wanted to emulate what they saw in porn, which is particularly concerning. Only 29 percent of girls had the same, which is still nearly a third. 

4. It Didn't Teach Them About Consent

[Embed]

Some of the more encouraging news from this study was how many young people realized porn wasn't a model for certain things. According to the NSPCC: "Most young people thought pornography was a poor model for consent or safe sex and wanted better sex education, covering the impact of pornography."

Although this study was in the UK, I can't imagine it is that different in the U.S. Children want better sex education to understand sex generally, but also porn specifically. 

5. But Those Who Didn't Have A Context For It Were More Likely To Rate It Positively  

[Embed]

While most people thought porn was either not realistic and/or a bad example of consent, there are young respondents who viewed it positively. According to the NSPCC: 

Young people who rated pornography positively were more likely to be: boys; younger respondents; or those whose families and/or schools had not engaged with them about online pornography.

This means that those who didn't have educational or parental explanations for what they were viewing were more likely to view it positively, underling the need for education and context. It really drives Beall's point, and the MakeLoveNotPorn message, home. We need more depictions of real world sex, especially for young adults. They need it and their future relationships need it. 

Images: Fotolia; Giphy (5)

Must Reads