Survey reveals pornography's mixed impacts

Angus Morgan

16 August, 2016

Young Australians who view pornography acknowledge that while there are significant negative aspects to the practice, there are also positive impacts, according to Burnet’s 2016 Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll survey.

More than 1000 Australians aged 15-29 took part in the survey about their sexual behaviours, knowledge of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), alcohol and drug use, mental health and pornography use.

Eighty percent of male participants admitted to intentionally watching pornography daily, almost daily or weekly over the past year, and were invited to explain the influence of pornography on their lives, positively and/or negatively.

Burnet’s Head of Sexual Health and Young People Research Dr Megan Lim said the 2016 survey provided new information about what kind of pornography young Australians watch and the kind of behaviours they see.

“A lot of the things that people say are a problem with pornography are that it shows things that aren’t considered normal or safe like non condom use, heterosexual anal sex, group sex and violence,” Dr Lim said.

“We’ve asked young people how often they see those things. Just because there’s violence out there do people actually see it or do they even recognise it as being violence?

“While the participants noted some negative impacts, sometimes the same people would say that pornography has had a positive impact on their life, so the effects are mixed.”

Dr Lim said a quiz on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) included in the survey revealed some gaps in young people’s knowledge.

“We’ve found that over the last 12 years that we’ve been doing the surveys people still generally don’t know about how STIs are diagnosed and treated,” she said.

“People really haven’t been learning more in the last 12 years despite several campaigns trying to educate people.”

Among other 2016 Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll survey findings:

  • 20 percent of people said they’d been bullied in the past six months, with workplace bullying the most common
  • 61 percent reported they had sent a sext of themselves to someone else
  • Four percent reported they had ever used crystal methamphetamine (ice)
  • Female participants were more likely than male participants to report a mental health problem in the past six months

Click here to download the 2016 Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll survey summary.

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Associate Professor Megan SC Lim

Deputy Program Director, Disease Elimination; Head, Young People’s Health




Subscribe to News

Subscribe to receive our latest news: