Sexuality & Couples

Sophie Bergeron  Ph.D

A recent study conducted in our lab examined heterosexual, cisgender (HC), and sexual and gender minority (SGM) adolescents’ pornography use characteristics. This study was performed as part of an ongoing bi-center Canadian longitudinal study on adolescents’ sexual health funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (principal investigators: Dr. Bergeron and Dr. Dion).

The ease of access to pornography has made its use common among teenagers. Although SGM teens may be more prone to use pornography to search for sexual orientation-related information or because of the scarcity of potential romantic or sexual partners, relatively little attention has been paid to their pornography use characteristics. In this study, we examined and compared SGM and HC adolescents’ lifetime pornography use, age at first pornography use, and frequency of pornography use in the past three months. We worked with more than 2800 adolescents attending ninth grade. We asked them to complete an anonymous questionnaire about their sexual health, including questions about their pornography use.

What did we find?

According to our results, 88% of HC boys, 78% of SGM boys, 54% of SGM girls, 39% of HC girls, and 29% of SGM non-binary individuals reported having ever viewed pornography by the age of 14. SGM girls indicated a significantly younger age at first pornography use (12.3 years on average) than HC girls (12.9 years on average). However, this difference was not significant among boys, as they started to watch pornography at the age of 11.6-11.9 years on average. SGM boys reported the highest frequency of pornography use with using it many times per week. In contrast, HC girls reported the lowest frequency of pornography use with using it less than once a month.

In sum, approximately two-thirds of teenagers had gained their first experience with pornography by the age of 14 years, and 52% reported using it once a week or more often in the past three months. These results indicate that pornography use may play an important role in both HC and SGM adolescents’ sexual development. SGM and HC boys’ pornography use characteristics showed similarities, whereas SGM and HC girls’ patterns of use presented some differences. Gender-based differences concerning pornography use seem to be robust regardless of SGM status. Also, our findings suggest that information about the normative sexuality of SGM people may be lacking in current sexual education curricula; therefore, SGM teens may try to find information in pornographic materials.

If you would like to know more about this study, we invite you to read the full paper:

Bőthe, B., Vaillancourt-Morel, M. P., Girouard, A., Štulhofer, A., Dion, J., & Bergeron, S. (2020). A Large-Scale Comparison of Canadian Sexual/Gender Minority and Heterosexual, Cisgender Adolescents’ Pornography Use Characteristics. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 17(6), 1156-1167.

Funding: This work was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the SCOUP Team—Sexuality and Couples—Fonds de recherche du Québec, Société et Culture awarded to B. Bőthe, and a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research awarded to S. Bergeron and J. Dion.

Bannière de logos