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10 Fast Facts About the Real Effects of Porn

Each fact below summarizes relevant research on a specific topic surrounding the effects of watching porn. Consider before consuming.

Decades of studies from respected academic institutions have demonstrated significant impacts of porn consumption for individuals, relationships, and society.

Each fact below summarizes relevant research on a specific topic surrounding porn’s harm to help you be more informed and more empowered with the facts. To read more stats and facts about porn’s impacts, check out our Get The Facts articles.

Related: How Many People Are On Porn Sites Right Now? (Hint: It’s A Lot.)

1. Pornography is the third-most common form of sex trafficking, according to cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Polaris. (2020). 2019 data report: The U.S. national human trafficking hotline. Retrieved from https://polarisproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Polaris-2019-US-National-Human-Trafficking-Hotline-Data-Report.pdfCopy 

2. The majority of young people are exposed to porn by the time they’re 13.British Board of Film Classification. (2020). Young people, pornography & age-verification. BBFC. Retrieved from https://www.bbfc.co.uk/about-classification/researchCopy 

3. 1 out of every 8 porn titles shown to first-time users on popular porn sites’ home pages describe acts of sexual violence, according to a 2021 study.Vera-Gray, F., McGlynn, C., Kureshi, I., & Butterby, K. (2021). Sexual violence as a sexual script in mainstream online pornography. The British Journal of Criminology, doi:10.1093/bjc/azab035Copy 

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4. Despite how unrealistic and toxic porn can be, 1 in 4 young adults list pornography as the most helpful source to learn how to have sex, according to a 2021 study.Rothman, E. F., Beckmeyer, J. J., Herbenick, D., Fu, T. C., Dodge, B., & Fortenberry, J. D. (2021). The Prevalence of Using Pornography for Information About How to Have Sex: Findings from a Nationally Representative Survey of U.S. Adolescents and Young Adults. Archives of sexual behavior, 50(2), 629–646. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-020-01877-7Copy 

5. 70% of porn consumers who learn about mistreatment and abuse in the porn industry take some form of action to combat it, including changing their porn habits.Tollini, C., & Diamond-Welch, B. (2021). American adult pornography consumers’ beliefs and behaviors related to pornography studios mistreating their performers. Sexuality & Culture, doi:10.1007/s12119-021-09872-3Copy 

Related: 5 Ways Porn Can Negatively Affect Your Brain, Body, And Quality Of Life

6. Mainstream porn videos featuring people of color often normalize and fetishize racism by focusing on degrading stereotypes.Fritz, N., Malic, V., Paul, B., & Zhou, Y. (2021). Worse than objects: The depiction of Black women and men and their sexual relationship in pornography. Gender Issues, 38(1), 100-120. doi:10.1007/s12147-020-09255-2Copy Abujad, I. M. (2021). Desiring empire: The colonial violence of “Hijab pornography”. In N. Zouidi (Ed.), Performativity of villainy and evil in anglophone literature and media (pp. 55-69). Cham: Springer International Publishing. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-76055-7_4 Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-76055-7_4Copy Zhou, Y., & Paul, B. (2016). Lotus blossom or dragon lady: A content analysis of “Asian women” online pornography. Sexuality & Culture, 20(4), 1083-1100. doi:10.1007/s12119-016-9375-9Copy 

7. In a study of casually dating adults, zero women reported that their partner consumed pornography daily or every other day. But in reality, 43% of casually dating men in the study reported this high level of porn consumption.Carroll, J. S., Busby, D. M., Willoughby, B. J., & Brown, C. C. (2017). The porn gap: Differences in men's and women's pornography patterns in couple relationships. 16(2), 146-163. doi:10.1080/15332691.2016.1238796Copy 

8. In a 2016 study, researchers found that 46.9% of respondents reported that, over time, they began watching pornography that had previously disinterested or even disgusted them.Wéry, A., & Billieux, J. (2016). Online sexual activities: An exploratory study of problematic and non-problematic usage patterns in a sample of men. Computers in Human Behavior, 56, 257-266. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2015.11.046Copy 

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9. While many LGBTQ+ youth turn to porn to learn more about their own sexuality, porn often fetishizes, misrepresents, and exploits LGBTQ+ people in damaging ways.Harvey, P. (2020). Let’s talk about porn: The perceived effect of online mainstream pornography on LGBTQ youth. In D. N. Farris, D. R. Compton & A. P. Herrera (Eds.), Gender, sexuality and race in the digital age (pp. 31-52). Cham: Springer International Publishing. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-29855-5_3 Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-29855-5_3Copy 

10. Research indicates that young people often feel pressured to imitate porn when having sex.Rothman, E. F., Kaczmarsky, C., Burke, N., Jansen, E., & Baughman, A. (2015). “Without Porn … I Wouldn’t Know Half the Things I Know Now”: A Qualitative Study of Pornography Use Among a Sample of Urban, Low-Income, Black and Hispanic Youth. Journal of sex research, 52(7), 736–746. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2014.960908Copy 

Related: Get The Facts || How Can Porn Harm Consumers, Relationships, And Society?

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