Establishing an evidence base for the development of porn literacy interventions for adolescents
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Background In recent years, many claims have been made regarding the impact of pornography on young peoples’ sexual development. Acknowledging the ease of access to pornography, its role as a source of sexual information for youth and the perceived risks associated with pornography engagement, educators and scholars have begun to call for porn literacy interventions to be incorporated into sex education programmes. However, few porn literacy interventions have been developed and there is little clarity about what porn literacy interventions should entail or what they aim to achieve. The present research sought to address this gap in the literature by exploring youth experiences with pornography, and engaging youth and parents in the development of a framework to support porn literacy interventions as well as parent-child conversations about pornography. Methods Study 1 used cross-sectional, quantitative methodology to quantify the prevalence of pornography use in Ireland with regard to age of first pornography engagement, frequency of pornography use, and motivations for pornography use, among Irish university students. Study 2 incorporated the use of Delphi methodology and structural equation modelling techniques to explore preferences for consensual and non-consensual pornography vignettes. Specifically, this study sought to explore whether more frequent pornography use was associated with being more comfortable with non- consensual pornography vignettes. Study 3 involved the development of a scale to examine what young adults report learning about sex from pornography. Study 4 utilised participatory research strategies and group discussions to engage young adults to explore their beliefs about pornography and their recommendations for adolescent pornography literacy intervention development. Study 5 and Study 6 employed the use of one-to-one interviews with parents to explore parents’ perceptions about the impact of pornography on young people, their suggestions for youth porn literacy, and their recommendations for how best to support parents in talking to their children about pornography. 11 Results Findings from Study 1 show that a majority of students living in Ireland see pornography for the first time during late childhood and early adolescence. Study 2 demonstrated that more frequent pornography use is not associated with a preference for non-consensual pornographic content. Study 3 shows that young adults learn about several aspects of sexuality from pornography, particularly, body aesthetic, sexual behaviour and sexual exploration. Study 4 found that young adult’s recommendations for porn literacy interventions for teenagers include a focus on reducing shame around pornography use, discussion of nine core concepts including sexual consent, body image and sexual pleasure, as well the promotion of critical thinking skills. Study 5 found that parents believe pornography to be a negative influence on young peoples’ lives, however, the perceptions of the effects of pornography vary by the gender of the child. Findings from Study 6 indicate that parents want to support porn literacy efforts with their children; however, they recommend the use of different strategies which suit their parenting styles. Conclusion The results of these studies together suggest that young adults report varied learning about sexuality from watching pornography, however, they also believe that pornography does not provide reliable information about sex. Both young adults and parents of teenagers recommend that to support youth in navigating pornography, porn literacy interventions should facilitate the development of critical thinking skills and provide reliable information about sexual relationships in the real world.
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