Impact of early exposure to online pornography on problematic pornography use and sexual consent attitudes

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McGuinness, Regina
Issue Date
BA (Hons) in Psychology
Dublin Business School
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Research suggests that children as young as eight are viewing online pornography, earlier than they receive primary school sex education, with potential risks of trauma, sexist role modelling, negative sexual consent attitudes, compulsive use, and viewing hard/torture porn. This study hypothesized that early exposure to online pornography (≤18 years) predicts more problematic pornography use and maladaptive sexual consent attitudes in later adulthood than exposure at ≥19 years, or never; and that this impact is stronger in males. A cross-sectional quantitative online survey of 74 adults (31 males, 43 females, aged 18-54), included the self-report Problematic Pornography Use Scale, and Sexual Consent Scale–Revised. Early exposure predicted higher problematic pornography use, but not sexual consent attitudes. Early viewers were predominantly male, aged 18-24, viewed online porn most frequently; 43% felt it influenced their sexual consent attitudes and behaviour. The findings endorse including online porn literacy in primary school sex education.