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Watching explicit material linked to being sexually active at a young age

A new research reveals that exposure to sexually explicit material starts on average at 12-years-old. The initiation of sexual behaviour takes place a year later.

sex and relationships Updated: Sep 08, 2017 09:51 IST
Those who view sexual material early on are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviour which can lead to STDs.
Those who view sexual material early on are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviour which can lead to STDs.(Shutterstock)

The age at which you are first engage in sexual behaviour is influenced by the age at which you first viewed adult content. A recent study has found that those who view sexually explicit material at a young age are likelier to engage in sexual behaviour at an earlier age. A total of 73 adults aged 18-25, 42 women and 31 men, from the UK took part in the research by Elysia Walker and Emily Doe from the University of Buckingham, answering an online questionnaire on their pornography-viewing habits and sexual behaviour.

Elysia said: “Our study examined how exposure to sexually explicit material, defined as any media depicting uncensored sexual behaviour, can influence the adoption of sexually risky behaviour. Sexually risky behaviour was defined as behaviour that puts people at high risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection. For this research, these behaviours referred to a lack of contraceptive use and having multiple sexual partners.”

Analysis showed that the age participants were when they first looked for sexually explicit material predicted the likelihood to engage in sexual behaviour at a younger age for both men and women. Responses revealed that exposure to sexually explicit material started on average at 12-years-old, with initiation of sexual behaviour happening around a year later. Ongoing active exposure to pornography was also found to predict a higher number of sexual partners in females, although this was not the case for male participants.

Inactive behaviour - viewing sexually explicit material accidentally, such as in a television show - was not found to have a relationship with sexually risky behaviour. The quantity of both active and inactive exposure to sexually explicit material was also unrelated to the frequency of sexually risky behaviour. From this, it was concluded that the age at exposure is a more significant factor in influencing viewers, as opposed to the quantity that is viewed. The study has been presented at the Annual Conference of the BPS Division of Health Psychology.

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