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Teens Think Porn Is Less Harmful Than Failing to Do This Household Chore

It’s no secret that sexually explicit material is easily accessible to anyone who uses any kind of technology. Because mainstream media is poisoned with sexualized content, “younger generations are coming of age in a hypersexualized cultural ecosystem.”

Because porn now pops up in ads, on billboards, on TV commercials and newsfeeds, Barna Group wanted to determine how often various age groups come across porn (without looking for it) versus how often they actively sought it out (viewing porn intentionally).

Barna conducted a study, commissioned by Josh McDowell Ministry, in a series of five online surveys with 3,771 participants. Findings revealed a “more cavalier attitude toward porn” for today’s teens and young adults. Researchers also found “young adults ages 18 to 24 seek out and view porn more often than any other generation” as they also typically “come across porn on a regular basis” since looking for porn will result in more responsive advertising.

“More than 7 in 10 say they come across porn at least once or twice a month (71%). Only 3 in 10 say they never or rarely run into pornographic content. In contrast, between 50 and 60 percent of teens (50%), older Millennials ages 25 to 30 (54%) and Gen-Xers (58%) come across porn at least once or twice a month. Roughly half report never or only rarely stumbling onto sexually explicit content. Boomers (40%) are less likely than younger Americans to say they run across porn at least once or twice a month,” stated Barna.

Roughly half of adults (54%) feel viewing porn is wrong while just 32% of teens and young adults feel viewing porn is wrong. Interestingly, “teens think “not recycling” is more immoral than any of the actions related to porn use.”

Barna’s research demonstrates a more cavalier attitude towards porn usage. This generation is generally more hesitant to name something as wrong. As Barna points out, there is a spirit that reflects Amy Poehler’s quote, “Good for you, not for me.”

Barna Group’s editor in chief, Roxanne Stone said, “These realities are fueling more cavalier attitudes and high rates of porn usage among the younger generations. This is concerning for a number of reasons: studies have shown that seeing a vast amount of pornography long before becoming sexually active can have damaging effects because of the amount of sexual conditioning that occurs in adolescence. Ill-timed exposure to explicit material could cause lifelong problems with relationships and personal sexual health, and create unrealistic beliefs about sex and sexuality.”

Stone continued,

“In our research, we’re finding that many adults—especially parents and even pastors—feel ill equipped to face the reality and ubiquity of porn and its use. But, without guidance, today’s young people are often left to their own devices to navigate the complex task of developing beliefs about sexuality. As young people develop beliefs and behaviors in a hyper-sexualized technological age where pornography is more accessible than ever, parents must be willing to discuss sexual topics with their children, and the church at-large needs to provide a robust—and appealing—counter narrative to the one perpetuated by pornography. This would entail challenging the distorted narrative of the porn industry by creating realistic expectations for sex and its purpose, and acknowledging the beauty and promise of sex within its proper context.”

What does this mean for today’s church leaders? Do youth pastors need to start talking to students about porn earlier? How do we equip parents to raise kids in light of these new insights?

If your church has done something to stand in the gap on this issue, we’d love to hear about it and learn from you.

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Esther Laurie is a staff writer at churchleaders.com. Her background is in communication and church ministry. She believes in the power of the written word and the beauty of transformation and empowering others. When she’s not working, she loves running, exploring new places and time with friends and family. It’s her goal to work the word ‘whimsy’ into most conversations.