Long gone are the days with the one-time, awkward “birds and bees” chat with your parents. Now, to get a more “well-rounded” feel for sex and related issues, it’s possible to check out the most acrobatic moves possible online without them even knowing, and counting that as legit information about sex. Yikes.

Welcome to the 21st century, where pornographic sex education is actually totally misinforming this generation about what real life looks like.

This isn’t something that only a curious few are into. According to research by the National Union of Students (NUS), the majority of students watch porn to learn about sex. They also reported that most students don’t rate the information about sex that they receive in schools as effective.

The NUS study surveyed more than 2,500 grade school and university students in the UK and found that 60% of kids watch porn to get more information about sex—despite almost 75% even admitting that it creates unrealistic expectations.

FTND_Student_Survey_60_Percent

Students are learning the wrong lessons

Out of the students the study included, 75% said the sex-related curriculum at their school was not practical and rated it as either fair, poor, or terrible. In addition to this, 50% of the kids said that issues they need to know about are not covered in class. This is why so many become “students” of Internet porn—because they want to be prepared, but don’t feel like they can talk about it.

Say what you will about sex-related issues being discussed in schools, but it’s a real problem that porn is considered an actual source of good information about sex.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) recently conducted a survey of more than 1,000 children aged 11-16, and found that at least half had been exposed to online porn. Of this group, almost all (94%) have seen it by age 14. The UK organization joined forces with Middlesex University to further study the impact of online porn on kids, in the largest study of its kind.

Unsurprisingly, the effects of watching porn on the young boys were readily apparent. Many boys revealed that they wanted to copy the behavior they had seen watching porn. More than a third (39%) of 13-14 year-olds who responded to this question – and a fifth of 11-12 of year-olds (21%) – wanted to repeat porn acts. The interesting part? These answers came despite more than 3/4 of the kids agreeing that porn didn’t help them understand consent.

The “education” with real consequences

The unfortunate reality of society today is that whether they really want to or not, a lot of teens are getting some of their education about sex from porn. And research has repeatedly found that people who have seen a significant amount of porn are more likely to start having sex sooner and with more partners, and to take part in riskier kinds of sex, putting them at greater chances of getting sexually transmitted infections.

Basically, getting sex info from porn is like taking drivers ed from a car chase in an action movie. Everything is completely unrealistic, exaggerated, and nothing like real life. Porn is just one huge lie, and it creates unrealistic expectations in relationships and totally destroys any sense of real love and intimacy.

Related: 4 Things Porn Is Teaching This Generation About Sex

Jane Lees, chair of the Sex Education Forum, said about the NUS findings: “Consent and relationship safety are real issues affecting students and sadly they are leaving school with little or no discussion on these topics having taken place.”

It’s important that we talk about how the porn industry is happy to take the chance to educate anyone about sex when parents and schools don’t cover their bases. And the lessons the porn industry is teaching our generation don’t have healthy outcomes.

According to the students surveyed, the topics covered in class were less practical and more biology based. The curriculum covers things such as anatomy, puberty, sexual health, and contraception. While all those things are good to know, our generation today needs a little more in-depth knowledge about the how’s and why’s of what goes on between the sheets. Porn provides shallow glimpses of that in the most counterproductive and false way possible, but it seems more informational than what school covers. There’s got to be a better way.

Why this matters

Porn is full of ideas and beliefs that are completely opposite of what real relationships, real sex, and real love are like. Healthy relationships are built on equality, honesty, respect, and love. But in porn, it’s the reverse; interactions are based on domination, disrespect, violence, and detachment. A sweet, tender connection doesn’t sell in porn, but degradation and abuse do. We think that’s pretty messed up, and it’s incredibly unhelpful for those of us who want to know more about sex in real life.

Related: How Porn Twisted My Sexuality

Even the experience of using porn is the opposite of what real romantic relationships are like. A real romantic relationship is about being with a person and falling in love with them; it’s about emotional connection and trust. In real relationships you can feel a person there, you can hear them laugh and know their quirks. The physical pleasure of sex is connected to sharing a whole relationship. With porn, however, it’s all about being alone, watching other people do things to each other that hurt in real life. Watching porn is about constantly searching for something new, constantly being shocked and surprised. That’s not cool, and that’s not real life.

Jack Wallington, director of community at the Student Room, commented on the NUS study, saying, “Students regularly report a general lack of practical advice and inadequate or incorrect information about sexuality, contraception, and STIs—leaving a black hole of unanswered questions that are filled by friends and websites. We’d like to see greater standardization in sex and relationships education programs, and ones which directly address the needs of young people, instead of leaving them to hunt for pieces of the puzzle themselves.”

We hear that. Because there is one inarguable fact: porn is a lie, not an education.

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