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Arch Sex Behav. 2011 Oct;40(5):1027-35. doi: 10.1007/s10508-010-9714-0. Epub 2011 Feb 3.

Associations between online pornography and sexual behavior among adolescents: myth or reality?

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Research Group on Adolescent Health, Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois and University of Lausanne, Bugnon, 17, 1005 Lausanne, Switzerland.


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.

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