How pornography is damaging our children’s future sex lives

When a therapist friend told Allison Havey that her then 13-year-old son was almost certainly viewing online pornography, she felt angry. “I was offended because I thought, why would he be doing that? It’s deviant behaviour and he’s not deviant.”

What Allison now knows is that it’s natural for boys to want to look at sexual imagery. In fact, the average age for first exposure to online pornography in the UK is 11. For slightly older boys, it’s completely normal – of 3,000 boys aged 13-18 surveyed, 81% said they looked at it.

Allison – who with Deana Puccio has written a book dealing with this and other issues for parents in the digital age – says that there are two major consequences. First, this suggests that conversations about sexual behaviour have to happen much sooner, and within the family.

Second, the conversation is now much more important because of the proliferation of online pornography, which boys are looking at on their mobile phones.

There is a risk to this generation, say Allison and Deana, that online pornography could damage the sexual sensitivities of boys and their future relationships. Girls, who are far less likely to be interested in pornography at this stage in their lives, are at risk too, from their partners and future partners who could mistake the fiction of online pornography for the “norms” of satisfying sex.

This has far-reaching consequences, and it’s something most parents don’t know enough about. But if you go online and look at what today’s young people are viewing, it’s a world away from the type of pornography a generation who grew up in the 70s and 80s might be familiar with. We’re not even talking about hardcore images; it’s the relatively tame videos that focus, obsessively, on male pleasure, particularly oral sex. The vast majority of women have surgically enhanced breasts and female pubic hair is almost entirely absent. By normalising such things, pornography could be conditioning boys to have unrealistic expectations of the women with whom they will have sex. Continue reading


  • The Guardian, article by Joanna Moorhead who writes for the Guardian, mostly about parenting and family life. She has four children.
  • Image: The Telegraph


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