BYU Today

Pornography Mismatch: Studying Acceptance Nationwide


chartAccording to a recent study led by family life professor Jason S. Carroll (BS ’96), the majority of college-aged students nationwide see pornography use as an acceptable expression of sexuality. The study documents that both sexes between the ages of 18 and 26 are far more accepting of pornography than their parents: while nearly half of college-aged women say pornography use is acceptable, only one-third of their fathers—and one-fifth of their mothers—agree.

The study surveyed 813 students at six universities across the nation, along with 623 of their parents; the study did not include BYU. Titled ‘Generation XXX: Pornography Acceptance and Use Among Emerging Adults,” the study was published in the Journal of Adolescent Research. Jeffrey Arnett, editor of the journal, described it as a landmark study, one of the first to look at attitudes toward pornography use.

Perhaps the most interesting finding was the mismatch between acceptance and use. While 49 percent of surveyed college-aged women said viewing pornography was acceptable, only 31 percent reported actually viewing pornography. The mismatch for college-aged men is opposite, however: nearly 67 percent said they accept pornography use, but 86 percent reported they had viewed pornography in the past year. This means that some men use pornography despite their disapproval of it. Twenty-one percent of college-aged men reported viewing pornography daily.

New wireless Internet devices make ‘pocket porn” a reality—available anytime and anywhere. To combat the proliferation, parents must help youth develop patterns of self-monitoring, says Carroll. ‘The exposure is going to be extremely high, so teaching our youth must involve not ‘if,’ but ‘when.’”