Researchers have found that viewing sexually explicit content on the internet or in magazines as a teenager does not influence sexual behavior as much as people think, according to a new study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

It was believed by many that viewing sexually explicit content could have a negative impact on the sexual behaviors of teenagers. However, not enough research was carried out to come to any concrete conclusions.

A team of researchers from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, led by Gert Martin Hald, PhD, conducted an online survey which included a total of 4,600 Dutch young people between the age of 15 and 25.

They found that close to 88 percent of males and 45 percent of females who participated in the survey had watched some form of sexually explicit material in the past year.

The results indicated that viewing sexually explicit media was associated with sexual behaviors, such as adventurous sex and offering money for sex. However, it should be noted that this association was marginal, resulting in only a 0.3 to 4 percent difference in sexual behaviors.

This indicates that while watching sexual content has an effect on sexual behaviors among teenagers, it is only one of many other factors, proving not to be as directly linked as previously speculated.

Dr. Hald said:

“Our data suggest that other factors such as personal dispositions-specifically sexual sensation seeking-rather than consumption of sexually explicit material may play a more important role in a range of sexual behaviors of young adults, and that the effects of sexually explicit media on sexual behaviors in reality need to be considered in conjunction with such factors.”

Dr. Irwin Goldstein, Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine, added:

“It has been 65 years since Kinsey first published on sexual behaviors, yet researchers continue to avoid this area of science. It is important to have factual information in order to make educated decisions.”

Patricia Greenfield, UCLA psychology professor and director of UCLA’s Children’s Digital Media Center, found that kids who are not seeking pornography on the internet are frequently inadvertently exposed to it when searching for a perfectly appropriate subject.

According to an article published in Pediatrics (September 2012 issue), teenagers involved in sexting are more likely to be involved in sexually explicit behaviors.

Written by Joseph Nordqvist