Introduction Online pornography use among young people has raised concerns over the potential for “pornography addiction”. There are no diagnostic criteria for pornography addiction and little is known about young people’s experience of this phenomenon. We asked a sample of young Australian’s about the influence of pornography on their lives and analysed responses for themes of self-identified problematic consumption.
Methods Participants (n=1029) aged 15–29 years were recruited via Facebook to an online survey. Those who had ever viewed pornography (n=856) were asked in an open-ended question: ‘How has pornography influenced your life?’. Data were thematically analysed for sentiment and theme. Sub-themes were developed for responses, which indicated problematic usage including obsessive thoughts, compulsive use, impacts on sexual function and relationships and desire to reduce usage.
Results Among participants who responded to the open-ended question (n=718), problematic usage was self-identified by 88 respondents. Male participants who reported problematic usage of pornography highlighted effects in three areas: on sexual function, arousal and relationships. Responses included “I think it has been a negative influence in many ways but at the same time I can’t stop using it” (Male, Aged 18–19). Some female participants also reported problematic usage, with many of these reporting negative feelings like guilt and shame, impact on sexual desire and compulsions relating to their use of pornography. For example as one female participant suggested; “It makes me feel guilty, and I’m trying to stop. I don’t like how I feel that I need it to get myself going, it’s not healthy.” (Female, Aged 18–19)
Conclusion Qualitative responses indicated that some male and female participants describe their pornography usage as problematic, compulsive or concerning. This highlights the need for further investigation of problematic usage of pornography. Findings contribute substantial insights into the impacts of pornography on young people’s sexual health.
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