A new British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) study has found that British teenagers regularly watch porn, and that parents are unaware or in denial about it. Surprising? No. But the results do reveal something interesting about how readily we
accept so many misconceptions about porn.
As media reports on the study indicates, young people are watching porn without their parents knowing. My own research found that young people chose to watch porn and found ways around
their parents' strategies to stop them. The problems they encountered related to their parents' punishments and not their porn consumption.
The theory of why porn is harmful is that consumers will start to adopt troubling aspects
of it in their attitudes and behaviours. But that's a limited and simplistic perspective of how people watch porn. It is a monkey see, monkey do theory of consumption where people are passive consumers of a script that they entirely accept and then act
out themselves. It is far easier to blame porn for young people's sexual interests than to recognize that young people are interested in sex.
We are now almost inundated with research that counters the harmful porn narrative.
Research is also now focusing on the potential benefits of watching porn. Just as the BBFC study reportedly finds young people watching porn as a form of sex education, research documents several educational benefits for young people: helping them
understand their sexual identities, explore sexual fantasies in a safe environment, and educate themselves about sexual health.