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Porn Study Finds Disturbing Trend Among Young Adults

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New data from the Barna Group highlighting the increasing acceptance and use of pornography by teens and young adults is fueling concerns about the sexual health of future generations. According to the landmark study commissioned by Josh McDowell Ministry, teens and young adults are consuming more pornography and being exposed to porn at younger ages than previous generations.

Although the complete report, “The Porn Phenomenon,” will not be released until April, Barna published a preview at a press conference in January. Some of the study’s most disturbing findings include:

  •  Young adults (age 18 to 34) “seek out” porn more than any other generational group: 57 percent of young adults; 43 percent of older Millennials (age 25 to 30); 41 percent of Gen-Xers (age 31 to 50), 37 percent of teens; and 17 percent of Boomers (age 51 to 69).
  • Twice as many young adults first viewed porn before puberty than did the previous generation—Gen X. Specifically, 27 percent of young adults viewed porn before puberty, compared to only 13 percent of GenXers.
  • Teens and young adults have a “morally indifferent attitude” toward porn. For example, 90 percent of teens, and 96 percent of young adults say they talk about porn with their friends in a neutral, accepting, or encouraging way. Additionally, less than one-third said viewing porn is “usually or always wrong,” compared to 56 percent who said the same of “not recycling.”
  • Most teens are “sexting.” For example, 66 percent of teens and young adults have received a sexually explicit image, and 41 percent have sent one (often from or to a romantic partner).

The study’s findings are particularly concerning in light of the well-established link between viewing pornography and a range of dangerous sexual behaviors and attitudes, including the objectification of women, sexual violence, and sexual addiction. “Adolescents are especially vulnerable to addictions, which means that such early exposure is a potentially dangerous precursor to porn and sex addictions,” the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE) noted recently about the study. “When pornography is the primary sex educator, it teaches lessons of violence, degradation, and selfishness that are not compatible with healthy, loving, relationships.”

To help parents navigate the Internet and teach children about the dangers of porn, the NCSE offers several helpful resources on their website, including information on filtering software, and tips on how to talk about porn with kids.

The Barna Group will release the full report at the “Set Free Global Summit” on April 4-7, 2016, in Greensboro, NC. The four-day conference for Christian leaders addresses the scourge of Internet pornography and is co-hosted by Josh McDowell Ministry and Covenant Eyes.

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