Adolescents and Pornography: A Review of 20 Years of Research

J Sex Res. 2016 May-Jun;53(4-5):509-31. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2016.1143441. Epub 2016 Mar 30.


The goal of this review was to systematize empirical research that was published in peer-reviewed English-language journals between 1995 and 2015 on the prevalence, predictors, and implications of adolescents' use of pornography. This research showed that adolescents use pornography, but prevalence rates varied greatly. Adolescents who used pornography more frequently were male, at a more advanced pubertal stage, sensation seekers, and had weak or troubled family relations. Pornography use was associated with more permissive sexual attitudes and tended to be linked with stronger gender-stereotypical sexual beliefs. It also seemed to be related to the occurrence of sexual intercourse, greater experience with casual sex behavior, and more sexual aggression, both in terms of perpetration and victimization. The findings of this review need to be seen against the background of various methodological and theoretical shortcomings, as well as several biases in the literature, which currently precludes internally valid causal conclusions about effects of pornography on adolescents.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Erotica*
  • Humans
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data*