Background: Nowadays adolescents and children are more and more exposed to sexually explicit internet material (SEIM), but most parents and healthcare professionals neglect this issue. The aim of the present study is to evaluate the impact of online pornography on minors' health with a specific focus on the effects produced on their behavioural, psychophysical and social development.
Methods: A literature search was performed on PubMed and ScienceDirect in March 2018 with the query "(pornography OR sexually explicit internet material) AND (adolescent OR child OR young) AND (impact OR behaviour OR health)". Results published between 2013 and 2018 were analysed and compared with previous evidence.
Results: According to selected studies (n = 19), an association between consumption of online pornography and several behavioral, psychophysical and social outcomes - earlier sexual debut, engaging with multiple and/or occasional partners, emulating risky sexual behaviors, assimilating distorted gender roles, dysfunctional body perception, aggressiveness, anxious or depressive symptoms, compulsive pornography use - is confirmed.
Conclusions: The impact of online pornography on minors' health appears to be relevant. The issue can no longer be neglected and must be targeted by global and multidisciplinary interventions. Empowering parents, teachers and healthcare professionals by means of educational programs targeting this issue will allow them to assist minors in developing critical thinking skills about pornography, decreasing its use and obtaining an affective and sex education that is more suitable for their developmental needs.