From Playboy to Porn: Effects of Sexually Explicit Internet Material

Flushed teenage boys flipping through sticky pages of a stolen Playboy, sneaking their first glimpse at a naked woman is now a thing of the past (Brown & L’Engle, 2009, p.129). Nowadays, unfolded centerfolds are ancient history, a recollection reserved by today’s parents or grandparents. Nudes have become a common commodity and “must be 18 or older” is an ignored disclaimer. Access points such as personal laptops, tablets, or phones facilitate access to Sexually Explicit Internet Material (SEIM) behind the privacy of closed doors (Doornwaard et al., 2015, p. 279). Whether or not sexually explicit material is sought out intentionally for personal arousal or by accident, “by the end of middle school many teens have seen sexually explicit content in more traditional forms of media as well” (Brown & L’Engle, 2009, p.148). In this way, exposure to sexually explicit material is occurring at an early age, not only through the Internet but also through popular media – music, television and film. Of course, sexual curiosity is a natural experience during human adolescence and throughout our lives. But what is concerning is that these technological advancements have relatively unknown effects on adolescent sexual development.

o-teen-on-laptop-facebook-300x150

Doornwaard, Overbeek, Ter Bogt & Van den Eijnden (2015) provides an answer by correlating “adolescents’ use of SEIM to their engagement in sexual behavior” (p. 269) by assigning SEIM levels of “nonuse/infrequent use, strongly increasing use, occasional use, and decreasing use” (p. 278). According to their study, most of their results were intuitive. Those that did not or infrequently use SEIM had lower sexual interest and were less likely to have sex. In contrast, those that strongly or even occasionally used SEIM had higher sexual interest. In some cases, adolescents might turn to SEIM to “validate their own sexual behavior” or for instruction (Doornwaard et al., 2015, p. 279). So this group was already engaging in some form of sexual behavior. Yet the most surprising result was in the decrease SEIM use group, for it contradicted the previous findings. A decrease in SEIM use resulted in an increase of sexual interest and behavior (Doornwaard et al., 2015, p. 280). Doornwaard et al. attribute this finding to the dichotic ideas that “adolescents may be interested in using SEIM due to insufficient real-life opportunities to satisfy their sexual needs” or “opportunities for real-life sexual behavior increase” making SEIM irrelevant (2015, p. 280). In this way, adolescent’s use of SEIM can be for supplementary purposes or that real life sexual behavior is more accessible and preferred. Through these measurements of adolescent’s response to various levels of SEIM exposure, they concluded that SEIM use is associated with “earlier sexual initiation, more sexual experience, permissive attitudes about sex and more conventional gender role beliefs” (Doornwaard, et al., 2015, pp. 269-270). These claims are what cause a stir within this discussion, for most research on this topic is negative.

As a result, debate is still open on the whether or not sexually explicit material has detrimental affects on adolescent sexual behavior or general development, but there is subtle agreement that its presence proliferates sexual interest. A study conducted by Monahan and Steinberg (2011) concluded that viewing sexually explicit material had “no accelerating or hastening effect of exposure to sexy media content or sexual debut” (p. 572). Their results were similar to that of Doornwaard et al. (2015), in that high exposure to SEIM encouraged more sexual behavior and low exposure to SEIM encouraged a lack of sexual behavior. Yet the distinction by Monahan and Steinberg was their account of individual differences and the ordinary chances that SEIM exposure would occur. In other words, not every adolescent will have the same level of interest for sexual behavior. There are other extraneous influences that could affect one’s interest like upbringing, religion, or friend group. In addition, they focused only on the subject’s “initiation of intercourse and not on the impact of media exposure on already sexually active teenagers” due to a lack of “non-virgin” adolescents (Monahan & Steinberg, 2011, p. 572). This skew of subjects altered the results. Although it can be argued that adolescents have an inherent sexual interest and therefore non-virgins could be used as a baseline, it also limits the study to the demographic of adolescents that may already have a delayed or lack of interest in sex or do not rely on SEIM for validation or information.

a78cdc943fb83a82f1e353393a2be50be1331f3689d09cd2df99d80436b7aece_large-300x150

So what’s your take? Do you feel like sexually explicit material is prevalent today (music, television, movies, Internet)? How do you think sexually explicit material affects us as we develop? How will it affect the children and adolescents growing up today? If technology continues to flourish, what do you imagine your grandchildren’s adolescence to be like? How does it effect how we interact with one another? Is it a problem? Should/can we change anything?

References:

Brown, J., & L’Engle, K. (2009). X-Rated: Sexual attitudes and behaviors associated with U.S. early adolescents’ exposure to sexually explicit media Communication Research, 36 (1), 129-151 DOI: 10.1177/0093650208326465

Doornwaard S, Overbeek G, Ter Bogt T, & Van den Eijnden RJ (2015). Differential developmental profiles of adolescents using sexually explicit internet material. Journal of Sex Research, 52 (3), 269-281 PMID: 24670248

Steinberg L, & Monahan K (2011). Adolescents’ exposure to sexy media does not hasten the initiation of sexual intercourse. Developmental psychology, 47 (2), 562-576 PMID: 20677858

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Seu e-mail não será publicado.


*