Although we try to deny the evidence, the reality is that access to pornographic content occurs at an earlier age. So much so that in some cases they already anticipate the childhood stage without waiting for adolescence.
This was demonstrated in 2019 by the investigation New pornography and changes in interpersonal relationships, carried out by the University of the Balearic Islands and the Youth and Inclusion network. A study carried out among 2,500 young people between the ages of 16 and 29 from seven autonomous communities in Spain, which found that the average age of initiation of pornography consumption is 14 years among male adolescents and 16 in the case of women.
However, at least one in four men declared that they had started before the age of 13, while the earliest age was anticipated up to 8 years. Something that according to the coordinator of the study and professor at the UIB Carmen Orte is due to the fact that “Minors have a mobile, in which, even if they do not look for pornography, they find it”.
The study, in fact, focuses on the easy access of the youngest to this ‘new pornography’ through the internet, with an affordable price (in many cases free), anonymous in nature and where there is a total absence of limits regarding sexual practices showing, for example, sex without a condom or the presence of overt violence with strangulation or strong blows. According to Lluis Ballester, another of the study’s coordinators, something that can lead adolescents to see this type of action as something normal or to be encouraged to ask their partner for them or to go to prostitution to carry them out.
Risky sexual practices
Research also finds that this new pornography is behind the increase in risky sexual practices among young people who may have a negative effect on health: group sex, with different partners, without a condom … According to the study, half of the boys and girls surveyed acknowledged having increased these practices after consuming pornography. On the other hand also distorts the image that they and they have of the same gender and the opposite.
But, without a doubt, one of the most revealing data of the study has to do with the way adults deal – or rather don’t deal with – this issue with teenagers. 80% of them say they have not received a satisfactory affective-sexual education or have not had it at all. Seven out of ten, in addition, do not go to adults to solve these doubts but to the internet or friends. Parents and teachers are only an option for 27% of them.
What would be the recommendations to address a matter so tricky that most parents tend to be embarrassed? Those responsible for the investigation recommend, first of all, not to censor the issue of pornography at home but to deal with it with the children from a critical, egalitarian and responsible perspective, already addressing the issue of interpersonal relationships, from the age of 10 or 11.
Seven out of ten young people do not go to adults to answer their questions about sex, but to the internet or friends
They also insist on the role of the school incorporating educational experiences that break gender stereotypes, warn about the dangers of prostitution as a space for experimentation and male violence.
Other experts in sexuality and young people also assure that it is necessary that parents do not stigmatize this type of content in order to generate a dialogue with their children based on trust and get informed to have control over what we talk and more easily jump the generational barrier.
Parents should be open to conversation. If the child or adolescent shares explicit sexual information with them, they must be receptive to approaching her and chatting so that they do not lose trust and turn to third parties or other means. It also can draw on own experiences and put themselves as an example to create greater proximity: that they see that their same doubts or questions were also raised before by their parents when they were the same age.
It is convenient, at the same time, provide them with routes of action and explain what they should do and why when a pornographic page is opened on their computer or mobile or when their friends share certain content. Regarding the parental control of tablets, mobiles and other devices It is discouraged to impose prohibitions but to have tools to be able to block improper pages, know the search history, control access codes … and approach children through respect and open-mindedness but making clear the values to be respected.