It is no secret that people access pornography at some point in their lives. Whether searching for it on purpose, or stumbling across it by accident, it is pretty easy to find. It's normal to be curious and you shouldn't be ashamed. However, it is important that you take the time to understand what you are seeing, and how it makes you feel.
The most important thing to remember when seeing pornography is that it is not a true representation of sex. Most people look and behave very differently and real, worthwhile relationships are about much more than just body parts.
Think about pornography like you would an action film - where the stunts are impressive, but you know that they are completely unrealistic in the real world. Outside of pornography, sex is about an equal relationship, where both people's feelings are important and you are not expected to be an expert!
Remain in control
Many studies show that pornography can negatively affect the way that young people feel about themselves and their relationships. These studies often find that repeated viewing could make you feel:
- unexcited by real life relationships;
- bad about your body;
- pressurised to act in a sexual way;
- that it is normal to treat others as 'sex objects';
- less concerned about viewing sexual violence.
Think about how these feelings could affect how someone sees themselves and behaves towards others. Can you see why pornography has an age limit of 18 years old?
A lot of the time, young people come across pornography when they were not expecting it. Most often this might be through someone else showing it to them, pop-ups online, or it appearing randomly on social media, gaming sites and chat rooms.
Never click on links found in pop-ups or within emails from people you don't know. They are very likely to send you through to a phishing site, where it tries to access your personal information, or will download a virus onto your device.
Pornography isn't only videos online. It comes in many different forms, from pictures to even stories and words. Sometimes it is created and shared by people you know, something that is often called sexting. Read through the pages of this section to find plenty of advice about the consequences of sexting, and what do if you are sent an indecent image.
If you are under the age of 18 and have been sent sexts from someone a lot older than you, or someone has been pressurising you to send a sext to them, talk to a trusted adult straight away. You should also report them on the Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre website.
Don't be embarrassed to talk
Being curious about sex is a normal part of growing up, and adults expect you to ask questions. If you are concerned about anything you have witnessed in pornography, or worried about how it made you feel, talk to someone about it. If you don't feel like you can turn to your parents, you can always seek advice from a teacher or older sibling or friend.
If you feel that there is nobody to talk to, consider contacting ChildLine. Whether you're feeling stressed, anxious, lonely or down, no matter what it relates to, they are there to listen on the phone or online. All conversations are free and confidential - the number doesn't event show up on the phone bill (more information about ChildLine's confidentiality can be found here).
For more information head over to ChildLine website.