A lot of young people watch online porn. As we get older it’s normal to be curious about sex and want to learn more about our own sexuality. Because porn is easy to find online a lot of young people use porn as a way to learn more about sex. If you’re thinking about watching porn it’s a good idea to be aware of some of the risks and understand some of the differences between porn and sex in real life.

Porn vs reality

Consent and respect:

Research has shown that a lot of online porn includes scenes which show violent or aggressive behaviour, and online porn almost never shows scenes which include asking for consent before taking an action. It’s important to remember that sex in real life should always centre around consent and respectful behaviour. If you’re thinking about doing something sexual with someone, online porn is often not a very good example of how to base your actions. Remember to always ask permission before doing something and if the other person doesn’t feel comfortable with something you shouldn’t put pressure on them to keep going.

Mutual enjoyment:

A lot of online porn includes sex scenes which are about one person’s enjoyment over the other. Sex in real life should be fun, safe and enjoyable for both people who are involved.

Appearances & choreography:

Scenes in online porn are often heavily choreographed and it’s not uncommon for porn actors to have altered their physical appearances. Research has shown that young people can suffer from low self-esteem after watching online porn – if it’s making you feel bad about yourself consider taking a break and talking to someone you can trust about it. If you want to speak to someone privately, organisations like Youthline can be a really big help.

Addiction

Research shows that some people can become overly reliant on watching online porn. Some people can use porn as a way to avoid things in their every day life or in a way that makes them feel unhappy or out of control. If you are concerned that porn may be impacting on your daily life then you should speak to someone you trust about it – this could be a family member, school teacher or counsellor or another adult that you trust. If you don’t feel like you can speak with someone you know about it you can speak to Youthline or another support service.

If something you’ve seen makes you feel uncomfortable

Online porn is really easy to find online, so sometimes this can mean you might see something that could make you feel upset, uncomfortable or unsafe. If this has happened to you, you should speak to an adult you trust about it – this could be a parent, caregiver, teacher, school counsellor. If you are worried about speaking to an adult or getting in trouble, consider reaching out to Youthline or another support service for help.

If you’re feeling pressured to watch online porn:

There can be a lot of pressure to watch online porn from peers, friends and even romantic partners. It’s ok to decide that you don’t want to watch it – particularly if it makes you feel uncomfortable or upset. Here are a few ways to say no if someone is pressuring you to watch something you’re not keen on:

  • Ignore it – if someone is trying to put pressure on you to talk about porn you can try changing the subject or just ignore it.
  • Try using humour – sometimes humour can be a good way of getting out of doing something you don’t feel comfortable with. Make a joke about it and then try changing the subject, hopefully that will give the other person the message that you’re not keen!
  • Make up a reason – if you feel uncomfortable about doing something it’s ok to make up a small lie to get out of doing it. Tell the other person you have to go somewhere else or say that you’re not feeling well.
  • Be straight with them – it’s not ok to be pressured into something you don’t want to do. If someone is putting pressure on you to watch porn you could try being honest with them about the fact that you’re not keen. This can be especially important if the pressure is coming from a romantic partner. Remember that you never have to do anything sexual that you don’t want to.

It’s illegal in New Zealand to supply pornography to someone who is under the age of 18. If you are under 18 and you’re uncomfortable being pressured to view porn you can ask for help from a parent, another adult you trust or the Police. You can also contact Netsafe for help about what to do by texting ‘Netsafe’ to 4282, or by contacting Youthline by texting 234.

If you’re worried about your porn use:

We’ve put together a list of organisations who can help you if you are concerned about your own porn use.