Porn Use Has Small Effect on Sexual Behavior, Study Finds

Many other factors contribute to young people having risky sex, experts say

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Men were more likely than women to use porn frequently -- between several times a month and every day -- and to engage in hard-core porn, which was "not at all surprising, [and] the most robust finding in porn research," Hald said.

Most of the participants who said they used porn -- 89 percent of the men and 70 percent of the women -- relied on the Internet within the past year to get it. Even though access to the Internet is so much greater than a few years ago, there has not really been a spike in risky sexual behaviors, Tortolero said.

"Just like the study showed, many other factors [could] determine if a person is going to have risky sex," she said.

Porn is not necessarily harmless, however. "Porn can definitely confuse a child, and it can create shame and discomfort if they get exposed early," Tortolero said.

Parents should counteract messages that their children get from porn, as well as how sex is portrayed in the media. They can do that by talking with their children about what a healthy relationship is, and about healthy, respectful sex.

More information

For more about adolescents and sexual health, visit the Guttmacher Institute.

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