NPR Broadcast – Porn And The Teenage Brain

There is a lot of porn on the internet. There are a lot of teenagers with smartphones. It seems obvious that teens would watch.

But maybe it isn’t.

Listen To The Interviews On This Topic…

In The New York Times magazine, Maggie Jones writes that parents underestimate how much pornography their kids watch on their phones. And many teens who watch porn before taking sex ed or forming sexual relationships end up with skewed ideas about intimacy, consent and pleasure. Combine this with mainstream depictions of sex and relationships, and, as Jones writes:

These images confound many teenagers about the kinds of sex they want or think they should have. In part, that’s because they aren’t always sure what is fake and what is real in porn. Though some told me that porn was fantasy or exaggerated, others said that porn wasn’t real only insofar as it wasn’t typically two lovers having sex on film. Some of those same teenagers assumed the portrayal of how sex and pleasure worked was largely accurate. That seems to be in keeping with a 2016 survey of 1,001 11-to-16-year-olds in Britain. Of the roughly half who had seen pornography, 53 percent of boys and 39 percent of girls said it was “realistic.” And in the recent Indiana University national survey, only one in six boys and one in four girls believed that women in online porn were not actually experiencing pleasure: As one suburban high school senior boy told me recently, “I’ve never seen a girl in porn who doesn’t look like she’s having a good time.”

Solutions like removing pornography from the internet or smartphones from teenage life are difficult to the point of being technologically or socially impossible. So some educators are trying something new … porn literacy.

Guests
Maggie Jones Contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine; @maggiepjones
Dr. Emily Rothman Associate Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health. Co-author of the course, “The Truth About Pornography: A Pornography-Literacy Curriculum for High School Students Designed to Reduce Sexual and Dating Violence”; @emrothman
Al Vernacchio Sex educator & speaker. Author of “For Goodness Sex: Changing the Way We Talk to Teens About Sexuality, Values and Health”; @alvsexed
Erika Lust Adult film director and producer; creator of the pornography education website “The Porn Conversation,” designed to be a resource for parents; @erikalust

Coleen Singer

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