Young people are increasingly exposed to pornographic images. But do they manage to distance themselves from what they see? What are the consequences on their sexuality and their relationships?
Free applications on smartphone, YouPorn videos on computer, X movies streaming … Pornography is becoming easier to access, especially for young people which are equipped with many digital tools. So much so that 21% of 14-24 year olds say they watch pornography at least once a week, including 15% of 14-17 year olds, Ipsos survey from 2018 on “Addictions of young people aged 14 to 24“. In reality, these figures would be underestimated:”most teens saw pornography before the age of 14“says Serge Hefez, psychiatrist in charge of the Family Therapy Unit at the Pitié Salpêtrière Hospital”And the viewing of these images is not always wanted. When consulting a streaming site for example, a pop-up window may appear with pornographic content“So how can you protect your child from this content? The National College of French Gynecologists and Obstetricians (CNGOF) with, in its presidency, Professor Israël Nisand, as well as several health professionals (sexologist, psychiatrist, etc.) give their advice to provide concrete solutions aimed at best protecting children and adolescents against pornography.
“We have nothing against the porn industry. The fact that some adults consume it and find pleasure in it is absolutely not to be condemned. What bothers us is that these are images made by adults for adults and that these should not be so accessible“Asks Professor Israel Nisand straight away. However, in reality, most of the sites offering this content are free and do not check the age of their users.”So it is no longer uncommon to receive in consultation parents who worry that their child was shocked after falling on porn“, he continues. And to add”children, especially when they are young, do not have the critical apparatus to take a step back on these images which are the fruit of reality“If some young people come in consultation horrified by what they have just seen, others have become addicted because these images come to tickle complex questions about their body, their intimacy, their desire … And they come back to it , for many, with more disgust than excitement and pleasure. Finally, the effervescence of smartphones, different apps and new connected practices (sexting, sexual live show, sextape, porn revenge, after sex selfies … ), gave birth “a new generation of users: alongside the passive use of pornography, all minors can now be “actors”“, recalls Marie-Hélène Colson, sexologist in Marseille.Early exposure to pornography
Pornography: what consequences for young people?
“Porn has created new sexual norms among young people”, Israël Nisand.
“To see pornographic images so young constitutes a sexual trauma“, regrets Professor Israel Nisand. The psychiatrist Serge Hefez even speaks of” psychic rape “for the most fragile of them:”when they still know nothing about sexuality, they look at images without filters“. If children living in a balanced family environment manage to distance themselves from what they see, those living in a complicated family structure or with emotional deficiencies can easily identify with the actors and actresses. And so, the sexual and romantic practices of these young people are impacted. By dint of consuming porn, the youngster enters a “performance anxiety : young men feel anxious about the size of their sex, the amount of sperm or the number of orgasms they can give to their partners. These figures are of course considered “too low” compared to what they can see in porn videos“, explains Dr. Marie-Hélène Colson.”And by comparing themselves to what is not comparable, they even go so far as to model erectile dysfunction and anxiety invented from scratch“. Young girls, for their part, find their gender” ugly “, and make more and more requests for genitoplasty (clitoroplasty, vaginoplasty, labiaplasty …), vulva operations, full hair removal … All they can see in porn movies. “As it leaves no room for imagination and eroticism, porn embodies the shaping of a off-centered sexuality of love relationships and affection“: Teenagers’ sexuality will thus be built without feelings, without seduction or love games. But it will also be based on”trivialization new practices, which then become the prerequisites of sexuality (sodomy, fellatio, facial ejaculation … formerly considered as marginal practices)“, she says. Dr. Ghada Hatem, gynecologist and founder of the Maison des Femmes, is concerned about the growing number of” rapes of minors over minors “, consultations for vaginal tears or pregnancies early and unwanted. “As pornography imposes models and stereotypes, girls tend to be carried away because the boy legitimizes his actions by saying that he saw them done on the Internet, and girls are afraid of being rejected if they do not submit not“, she laments.
How to better protect minors?
The CNGOF and health professionals campaign for a better age control on porn sites : “the CSA should oblige the access providers to condition the access to the porn sites in exchange for a proof of majority, by means of a bank card for example“, suggests Professor Israel Nisand. No porn videos should be available for free. “And those who do not comply with this obligation would be fined 10 million euros“. The College also highlights the initiative of the Association Ennocence which has launched a platform for reporting inappropriate content on the Internet.” Balance your site “allows parents to report any site with content dangerous for minors (images and videos). pornographic, addictive games, invitation to a chat…).
“No porn videos should be available for free”
Parents also have a role to play and should not minimize the influence of these images. “While it is difficult for them to approach sexual issues without feeling like they are intrusive or disrespectful of their child’s privacy, perhaps they need to find the right line by starting the discussion by devious means “, advises Serge Hefez. In addition to these dialogues, they can install parental controls on their child’s smartphone or computer. Finally, the CNGOF is convinced that the only immediately applicable solution would be to comply with the legislation which requires educational establishments (from CP to 12th grade) to provide at least 3 sessions of sexuality education per year. “Lessons not only based on reproduction and contraception, but where children are taught non-consent, gender relations, romantic relationships, sensuality, what a desire or orgasm is… and where anticipate questions they might ask“, specifies Ghada Hatem.