This paper explores the important role the media play in informing young people about masturbation. A pilot study of focus groups with twenty-two young Australians aged between 14 and 16 explored what they know about sex and sexuality, and where they have found that knowledge. This paper reports on their knowledge about masturbation. Although researchers agree that masturbation can be a positive part of healthy sexual development, most young people reported that they received very little positive information about it from their parents or in formal sex education in school. These young people’s discussions around this topic were largely ambivalent, but also highly complex due to the varying levels and types of information that they receive. In this context the media play a vital role in providing information about masturbation through books and magazines for young women, and television comedies for young men.
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We use the term ‘sexuality education’ here in order to make clear that we are referring to education about all aspects of human sexuality—including relationships, assertiveness skills, pleasure, consent and so on. We avoid the term ‘sex education’ because research has shown that this is often understood to involve a more biological approach to teaching about sex. The term ‘sexuality education’ is not used in this context to refer specifically to education about a person’s sexual identity—although this can be encompassed in this broader approach.
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Watson, AF., McKee, A. Masturbation and the Media. Sexuality & Culture 17, 449–475 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-013-9186-1
- Sex education
- Sexuality education
- Young people
- Adolescent sexuality