Associations Between Online Pornography and Sexual Behavior Among Adolescents: Myth or Reality?
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This study aimed to compare the sexual behavior of adolescents who were or were not exposed to online pornography, to assess to what extent the willingness of exposure changed these possible associations, and to determine the profiles of youths who were exposed to online pornography. Data were drawn from the 2002 Swiss Multicenter Adolescent Survey on Health, a self-administered cross-sectional, paper and pencil questionnaire. From the 7529 adolescents aged 16–20 years, 6054 (3283 males) used the Internet during the previous month and were eligible for our study. Males were divided into three groups (wanted exposure, 29.2%; unwanted exposure, 46.7%; no exposure, 24.1%) whereas females were divided into two groups (exposure, 35.9%; no exposure, 64.1%). The principal outcome measures were demographic characteristics, Internet use parameters and risky sexual behaviors. Risky sexual behaviors were not associated with online pornography exposure in any of the groups, except that males who were exposed (deliberately or not) had higher odds of not having used a condom at last intercourse. Bi/homosexual orientation and Internet use parameters were not associated either. Additionally, males in the wanted exposure group were more likely to be sensation-seekers. On the other hand, exposed girls were more likely to be students, higher sensation-seekers, early maturers, and to have a highly educated father. We conclude that pornography exposure is not associated with risky sexual behaviors and that the willingness of exposure does not seem to have an impact on risky sexual behaviors among adolescents.
KeywordsPornography Adolescent sexual behavior Internet Gender differences Health information
Study concept and design: Luder, Pittet, Surís, Akré, Berchtold, and Michaud. Acquisition of data: Michaud. Analysis and interpretation of data: Luder, Pittet, Berchtold, and Surís. Drafting of the article: Luder and Surís. Critical revision of the article: Pittet, Surís, Akré, Berchtold, and Michaud. Statistical analysis: Luder, Pittet, Berchtold, and Surís. Obtained funding: Michaud. The SMASH02 survey was carried out with the financial support of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (contract 00.001721/2.24.02.-81) and participating cantons. The funding bodies had no role in the design and conduct of the study; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; or in the preparation, review or approval of the manuscript. The survey was performed within a multicenter multidisciplinary group from the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Lausanne [F. Narring, MD, MSc (Principal investigator); V. Addor, RN, MPH; C. Diserens, MA; A. Jeannin, MA; G. van Melle, PhD; and P.-A. Michaud]; the Institute for Psychology, University of Bern (F. Alsaker, PhD; A. Bütikofer, MA; and A. Tschumper); and the Sezione Sanitaria, Dipartimento della sanità e della socialità, Canton Ticino (L. Inderwildi Bonivento, MA).
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