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Religion Keeps Teens Away from Porn

Religion Impacts Young People’s Porn Use

A new study finds that attendance of religious services by young people is associated with a reduction in viewing pornography over time.

University of Calgary researchers analyzed the results of a survey capturing adolescent pornography usage into young adulthood (between the ages of 13 to 24). The survey was administered between 2003 and 2008.

Researchers found that pornography consumption increases sharply with age, especially among males (although there is some increase with females too). However, these age-based increases in pornography viewing are decidedly lesser among those who attend religious services.

The study findings appear in the Journal of Adolescence.

“We were able to determine that there is a barrier effect at play wherein religious social control encourages adolescents to view less pornography over time,” said Kyler Rasmussen, lead author of the study and a Ph.D. student in the University of Calgary’s Department of Psychology.

“This increase in pornography consumption as adolescents get older isn’t as drastic among those who attend religious services. We can see that religious attendance is a factor in shaping the trajectories of pornography viewing in adolescents.”

Rasmussen added, “Some might see it as a vindication of the role of religion, in that it can shape the behavior of young adolescents in a positive way.”

The data collected for this project was obtained from the National Study of Youth and Religion, a research project spearheaded by sociology professors at the University of Notre Dame and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

A nationally representative telephone survey of 3,290 English and Spanish speaking teenagers and their parents, it was designed to investigate the influence of religion and spirituality on American youth.

Rasmussen focused on one question in the survey, which, to his knowledge, had never been properly explored — the pronography viewing habits of adolescents. At the time Rasmussen was taking a course on social statistics with Dr. Alex Bierman, associate professor in the Department of Sociology; he asked Bierman to be his co-author on the study, applying the methodology of social statistics to the available data on adolescent porn usage.

A study of pornography consumption among adolescents is one of crucial importance, says Bierman, as this age bracket represents a critical time in a person’s social and sexual development.

While educated opinions may vary on the potentially harmful effects of pornography consumption among adults, with adolescents certain red flags must be raised.

“At this stage in life, when individuals are learning about sexuality and sexual relationships, do we want them learning these things from a source that has been known to often reinforce detrimental and misogynistic stereotypes?” said Bierman. “That may not be healthy.”

“Therefore, trying to understand the influences that shape porn usage and its trajectory with age is an important question for our society.”

So what is it about attending religious services that would help steer adolescents away from viewing pornography? “People in religious communities learn that there are expected patterns of behavior,” says Bierman.

“It may be the notion of a divine significant other who watches over them and there may also be a social support component. When you become integrated within a moral community where pornography is used less often and is, in fact, discouraged, this may shape and deter pornography usage. There’s a kind of social control function at play.”

Bierman notes that the data collected for this study was gathered between 2003 and 2008 and since that time pornography has only become more prevalent in our society of social media and smart phones.

“There’s more free access to pornography online than ever before,” he said. “We probably underestimate the extent to which pornography is available to adolescents.”

While the research would seem to be a testament to the positive influence of religion on adolescents, Rasmussen feels that the study’s ramifications might reach beyond that.

“I think it’s important to try and figure out what it is about religiosity that steers these adolescents away from pornography,” he said. “Let’s see if we can figure that out and apply it outside of a religious context.

“Clearly there are people who aren’t religious who still don’t want their children watching pornography and being influenced by it. So if we can take those aspects of religion that are working and apply them in a family setting or a secular setting, that might be really worthwhile.”

Source: University of Calgary/EurekAlert

Religion Impacts Young People’s Porn Use

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2016). Religion Impacts Young People’s Porn Use. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 17, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2016/07/07/religion-keeps-teens-away-from-porn/106482.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 7 Jul 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Jul 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.