Porn Use Rates (mostly, but not exclusively adolescents)

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This page collects studies with rates of porn use (keep in mind that studies employ a variety of questions and methodology).

Digital Technologies and Sex – Internet and Smartphone Influences on Pornography Viewing and Other Sexual Behaviors

This 2020 chapter from The Oxford Handbook of Digital Technologies and Mental Health has stats on porn use rates from multiple countries.

Young Australians’ use of pornography and associations with sexual risk behaviour (2017)

Study on Australians ages 15-29 found that 100% of the men (82% of women) had viewed porn. Also, 69 percent of males and 23 percent of females first viewed porn at age 13 or younger. In addition this study reported that more frequent pornography viewing correlated with mental health problems.

Preliminary Insights from a U.S. Probability Sample on Adolescents’ Pornography Exposure, Media Psychology, and Sexual Aggression (2021)

Among a 614-subject adolescent sub-sample of a population-based probability survey of Americans aged 14 to 60, 70.3% had viewed pornography. 84.40% of males and 57.10% of females.

Pornography Use Prevalence and Associated Factors in Arab Countries: A Multinational Cross-Sectional Study of 15,027 Individuals (2021)

[Average age 23.82 years] Most of the participants were men (84.56%). … Past-year pornography viewing was reported by 88.6% of participants. … A total of 39.4% of participants viewed pornography weekly (43% of men and 18% of women) and 21.8% did so daily (25% of men and 5.5% of women).

Adolescent Condom Use, Parent-adolescent Sexual Health Communication, and Pornography: Findings from a U.S. Probability Sample

Nationally representative surveys of U.S. adolescents have found that 68.4% report exposure to online pornography.

Increase in the prevalence of online pornography use – objective data analysis from the period between 2004 and 2016 in Poland (2019) (in press)

Between 2004 and 2016, porn use more than tripled across the population (from 7.7% to 24%). Males are more likely to use internet porn than females (47% vs 27%), except among the 7-12 age group, where viewing rates were similar (27% of girls, 25% of boys). In every age category, at least 25% of the population uses porn, including the youngest (7-12) and oldest (58% +). Also discusses inadequacies of using GSS (US Government “General Social Survey”) to track porn use.

A Literature Review of Studies into the Prevalence and Frequency of Men’s Pornography Use (2020)

This survey utilized computer-assisted telephone interviewing to collect a nationally representative sample of Australians aged 16–69 (N: 20,094, men : 49.6%).

The majority (84.1%) of the men sampled reported viewing pornography at some point.
 The paper also had this chart summarizing some samples from other, smaller studies.

 


Both the large-scale surveys and smaller studies suggest that the vast majority of men (>80%) have accessed pornography at some point.
Among the smaller studies (which typically utilized younger samples) past-year or past-six-month use of pornography was also high (>75%). Among larger, more age-diverse samples, the prevalence of past-year or past-six-month consumption was lower, although still high (between 40 and 70% of men).
With regard to frequency:
Extant evidence would suggest that around half of younger men are regular pornography users.

Almost all gay and bisexual men have seen pornography at some point, and that the majority—possibly more than 75%—of gay and bisexual men are viewing pornography at least weekly. Several studies indicate that median time spent watching pornography per week may be as high as 3 hrs.

Generation XXX: Pornography Acceptance and Use Among Emerging Adults (2008)

Excerpt: Nearly 9 out of 10 (87%) young men and nearly one third (31%) of young women reported using pornography.

Prevalence and correlates of sexual behaviors among university students: a study in Hefei, China (2012)

Excerpt: Males reported more sexual fantasies (84.6%), solitary masturbation (70.3%), and using pornographic videos (86.3%). Note: porn is officially banned in China.

Gender differences in pornography consumption among young heterosexual Danish adults (2006).

Excerpt: In Denmark 97.8% of males and 79.5% of females watched pornography among 1002 people aged from 18–30 years old.

X-Rated: Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors Associated With U.S. Early Adolescents’ Exposure to Sexually Explicit Media (2009)

Excerpt: [By the 1980s] The average age of first exposure to Playboy was 11 years for males and 12 for females; by 15 years old, most had also seen an X-rated film. [Citing: Bryant, J., & Brown, D. (1989). Uses of pornography. In D. Zillmann & J. Bryant (Eds.), Pornography: Research advances and policy considerations (pp. 25-55). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.]

X-Rated: Sexual attitudes and behaviors associated with U.S. early adolescents’ exposure to sexually explicit media (2009)

Excerpt: Average age 13.5: Two-thirds (66%) of males and more than one-third (39%) of females had seen at least one form of sexually explicit media in the past year.

Adolescents’ Exposure to Sexually Explicit Material on the Internet (2006)

Excerpt: 71% of the male adolescents and 40% of the female adolescents had been exposed to some kind of online sexually explicit material in the 6 months prior to the interview.

Pornography Consumption, Sexual Experiences, Lifestyles, and Self-rated Health Among Male Adolescents in Sweden (2013)

Excerpt: Almost all boys, 96% (n = 453), had watched pornography. Frequent users of pornography (everyday) (10%, n = 47) differed from average users (63%, n = 292) and nonfrequent users (27%, n = 126).

[Also mentioned in table above]  Does Viewing Explain Doing? Assessing the Association Between Sexually Explicit Materials Use and Sexual Behaviors in a Large Sample of Dutch Adolescents and Young Adults (2013)

Excerpt: Online cross-sectional survey study of 4,600 young people, 15–25 years of age … found that 88% of men and 45% of women had consumed SEM in the past 12 months.

Online sexual activity experience of heterosexual students: gender similarities and differences (2011)

Excerpt: In the Shaughnessy et al. (2011) study of young Canadians, aged 18 to 28 years, 85.8% of males and 39.3% of females said they had searched Internet for pornography.

Pornography and the Male Sexual Script: An Analysis of Consumption and Sexual Relations (2014)

Excerpt: Our research indicates that a majority of men (58.7%) use pornography weekly, mostly via the internet. … We also found an earlier onset of first exposure to pornography compared to prior studies. Previous research (Sabina et al.,2008) found that 14.4%of boys had exposure prior to the age of 13; we found that 48.7%of men in our sample had similar early exposure.

A Profile of Pornography Users in Australia: Findings From the Second Australian Study of Health and Relationships (2016)

Excerpt: Data from the Second Australian Study of Health and Relationships (ASHR2) were used: computer-assisted telephone interviews (CASIs) completed by a representative sample of 9,963 men and 10,131 women aged 16 to 69 years from all Australian states and territories, with an overall participation rate of 66%. Most men (84%) and half of the women (54%) had ever looked at pornographic material. Three-quarters of these men (76%) and more than one-third of these women (41%) had looked at pornographic material in the past year.

The Porn Phenomenon (2016) – 27% of 25-30-year-olds started viewing porn before puberty. In context:The younger the respondent, the more likely they were to respond positively to the statement: “I started looking at pornography before puberty:”

    • 6% of respondents aged 51-69.
    • 13% of respondents aged 31-50.
    • 27% of respondents aged 25-30.

[PDF] Middlesex University (for the NSPCC) UK – “I wasn’t sure it was normal to watch it…”: A guantitative and qualitative examination of the impact of online pornography on the values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of children and young people (2017)

28% of 11-12-year old’s report seeing pornography.

[PDF] NZ YOUTH AND PORN: Research findings of a survey on how and why young New Zealanders view online pornography (2018)

New Zealand research says 27% have seen porn by age 12.

Pengaruh paparan media pornografi dan teman sebaya terhadap perilaku seks remaja kabupaten kudus (2018) – Indonesia

Excerpt: The results showed that all students had contact with pornography, mainly through internet network, as many as 264 respondents (82.2%) were frequently exposed to pornography media and 57 respondents (17.8%) were rarely exposed to pornographic media.

Deviant Cyber‑Sexual Activities in Young Adults: Exploring Prevalence and Predictions Using In-Person Sexual  Activities and Social Learning Theory (2018)

Excerpt: Research suggests that 56–72% of young men access online pornography compared to 24–35% of young women (Boies, 2002; Goodson, McCormick, & Evans, 2001). Further research suggests that between the ages of 18 and 39, 46% of men and 16% of women  used porn in the last week, 56% of men and 26% of women used it in the last month, and 69% of men and 40% of women used it in the last year (Regnerus, Gordon, & Price, 2016).

Pornography Consumption, Modality and Function in a Large Internet Sample (2018)

[Used MTurk, which is suspect methodology.] Excerpt:

The sample (n = 1,392) of adults in the United States was collected using AmazonMechanical Turk and included a much wider age range (ages 18–73) than in typical pornography research. Using all modalities of pornography, 91.5% of men and 60.2% of women herein reported having consumed pornography in the past month.

Attitudes and Risk Factors of Pornography Consumption Among Bangladeshi University Students: An Exploratory Study (2018)

Excerpts: Nearly three-quarters of students consumed pornography at least once in their lifetime (72%). The overall pornography consumption rate was therefore less than reported in studies from India (80%; Das 2013), Sweden (98%; Donevan and Mattebo 2017), and Australia (87%; Lim et al. 2017), but greater than the one previous study in Bangladesh (42%; Chowdhury et al. 2018).

…Pornography consumption was also predicted by being in a relationship, a finding that has not been reported before to the authors’ knowledge.

…Analysis demonstrated that males were 12 times more likely to engage in pornography consumption than females…. Interestingly, although female pornography consumption was much lower than males, among those that had accessed pornography, females viewed more of it than males in terms of number of hours in the past 15 days.

…The rate of pornography consumption once per week (23%)

Dissatisfaction with school sex education is not associated with using pornography for sexual information (2019)

Excerpts:  [Ireland] In total, 90% of females, 98.6% of males, 94% of non-binary participants and 80% of transgender participants reported that they had seen pornography; however, the total number of non-binary participants and transgender participants in our sample was small.

Age of first pornography use for masturbation purposes varied, with 45% of the sample first using pornography for these reasons between 14 and 17 years of age; 52% and 9% of females first used pornography to masturbate under 13 years of age.
A large proportion of the sample reported first engagement under 13 years of age, with 65.5% of males and 30% of females reporting this.
A majority of males reported more frequent engagement (77%), in comparison to 15% of females

Sexual Activity and HIV-Related Knowledge among Secondary School Students in China (2019)

Excerpt: [China] The ages of participants range from 9 to 21 years with a mean of 14.83±1.63 years. Of 6347 students, 3214 (50.6%) were female. Results showed that 65% of male and 71% of female had been pornography reader. [“pornography reader” includes “books, film or other materials”]

Does sex education before college protect students from sexual assault in college? (2018)

Excerpts: A recent study of college students aged 18‒29 found that 78.2% of males reported using pornography in high school at least once a week, and of those nearly a quarter (23.9%) used pornography every day or almost every day. Among females, 12.6% used pornography in high school at least once of week or more.

…Greater frequency of viewing pornography was associated with an increased risk of PSA [penetrative sexual assault]  in college for women and showed a borderline statistical association for men p = 0.0575).

…We found that the timing of initiation of oral sex was highly associated with timing of other sexual and drug use behaviors; earlier initiation was also associated with more frequent viewing of pornography in high school. Hooking up in high school was highly correlated with watching porn and earlier initiation of oral sex.

Prevalence, Patterns and Self-Perceived Effects of Pornography Consumption in Polish University Students: A Cross-Sectional Study (2019)

  • 6463 students (2633 male and 3830 female), aged 18–26 years. Most data from subset of current users​ (n = 4260)
  • Nearly 80% of students have been exposed to pornography (median age of first exposure: 14 years).
EFFECTS (Study excerpts in italics):
  1. Tolerance/escalation: The most common self-perceived adverse​ effects of pornography use included: the need for longer stimulation (12.0%) and more sexual stimuli​ (17.6%) to reach orgasm, and a decrease in sexual satisfaction (24.5%)……  The present study also suggests that earlier exposure may be associated with potential desensitization to sexual stimuli as indicated by a need for longer stimulation and more sexual stimuli required to reach orgasm when consuming explicit material, and overall decrease in sexual satisfaction…..  Various changes of pattern of pornography use occurring in the course of the exposure period were reported: switching to a novel genre of explicit material (46.0%), use of materials that do not​match sexual orientation (60.9%) and need to use more extreme (violent) material (32.0%)…
  2. Addiction- high rates, even though “self-perceived”: Daily use and self-perceived addiction was reported by 10.7% and 15.5%, respectively. Female and male porn addiction rates were the same!
  3. Withdrawal symptoms: even in non-addicts (see table): 51% attempted to quit at least once, with 72.2% of those experiencing withdrawal symptoms: Insomnia, Irritability, Trembling, Aggression, Anxiety, Libido decrease, Depression, Erotic dreams, Attention disturbance, loneliness…
  4. Younger = more problems: Age of first exposure to explicit material was associated with increased likelihood of negative effects of pornography in young adults—the highest odds were found for females and males exposed at 12 years or below. Although a cross-sectional study does not allow an assessment of causation, this finding may indeed indicate that childhood association with pornographic content may have long-term outcomes….
  5. Participants believe porn is a public health issue: In the present study, the surveyed students often indicated that pornography exposure may have an adverse outcome on social relationships, mental health, sexual performance, and may affect psychosocial development in childhood and adolescence. Despite this, the majority of them did not support any need for restrictions to pornography access….
  6. Some males need more aggressive material (but): the present study found that a need to use more extreme pornography material was more frequently​reported by males describing themselves as aggressive.
  7. But, females more likely to escalate to violent porn: Various changes of pattern of pornography use occurring in the course of the exposure period were reported: switching to a novel genre of explicit material (46.0%), use of materials that do not​ match sexual orientation (60.9%) and need to use more extreme (violent) material (32.0%). The latter was more frequently reported by females considering themselves as curious compared to​those regarding themselves as uninquisitive…
  8. It’s the porn! Personality traits not related to outcomes: With some exceptions, none of personality traits, which were self-reported in this study, differentiated the studied parameters of pornography. These findings support the notion that access and exposure to pornography are presently issues too broad to specify any particular psychosocial characteristics of its users. However, an interesting observation was made regarding consumers who reported a need to view increasingly extreme pornographic content. As shown, frequent use of explicit material may potentially be associated with desensitization leading to a need to view more extreme content to reach similar sexual arousal [32].

Sexuell och reproduktiv hälsa och rättigheter i Sverige 2017 [Sexual and reproductive health and rights in Sweden 2017] (2019)

Excerpt: Forty-one percent of men aged 16 to 29 are frequent users of pornography, i.e. they consume pornography on a daily basis or almost on a daily basis. The corresponding percent among women is 3 percent. Our results also show an association between frequent pornography consumption and poorer sexual health, and an association with transactional sex, too high expectations of one’s sexual performance, and dissatisfaction with one’s sex life.

A Large-Scale Comparison of Canadian Sexual/Gender Minority and Heterosexual, Cisgender Adolescents’ Pornography Use Characteristics (2020)

Excerpts: We used a sample of 2,846 adolescents (52.5% girls; Mage ¼ 14.5 years, SD ¼ 0.6), which was collected as part of an ongoing longitudinal study on adolescents’ sexual health. …

88.2% of HC [hetero-cis] boys, 78.2% of SGM [sexual /gender minority] boys, 54.2% of SGM girls, 39.4% of HC girls, and 29.4% of SGM non-binary individuals reported having ever viewed pornography by the age of 14 years….(emphasis supplied)

SGM boys reported the highest (median: many times per week), whereas HC girls reported the lowest (median: less than once a month) frequency of pornography use. …

Approximately two-thirds of teenagers had gained their first experience with pornography in the present sample, and 52.2% reported using it once a week or more often in the past 3 months, indicating that pornography use may play an important role in both HC and SGM adolescents’ sexual development.


The next two tables appeared in research (references below the tables).

FOOTNOTES for tables above:

23 Shek, D.T. and Cheung, B.P. Developmental issues of university students in Hong Kong. International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health. 2013, 25, 345-351.

24 Green, L.; Brady, D.; Olafsson, K.; Hartley, J. and Lumby, C. . Risks and safety for Australian children on the internet: Full findings from the AU Kids Online survey of 9-16 year olds and their parents. Cultural Science, 2011, 4, 1-73.

25 Lopez, J.R.; Mukaire, P.E. and Mataya, R.H. Characteristics of youth sexual and reproductive health and risky behaviors in two rural provinces of Cambodia. Reproductive health.  2015. 12.

26 Ma, C.M.S. and Shek, D.T.L. Consumption of pornographic materials in early adolescents in Hong Kong. Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, 2013, 26, S18-S25.

27 Peter, J. and Valkenburg, P.M. The use of sexually explicit internet material and its antecedents: A longitudinal comparison of adolescents and adults. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2011, 40, 1015-1025.

28 Skakoon-Sparling, S.; Cramer, K.M. and Shuper, P.A. The impact of sexual arousal on sexual risk-taking and decision-making in men and women. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2016. Jan;45(1):33-42. doi: 10.1007/s10508-015-0589-y.

29 Stanley, N.; Barter, C.; Wood, M.; Aghtaie, N.; Larkins, C. and Lanau, A. Pornography, Sexual Coercion and Abuse and Sexting in Young People’s Intimate Relationships: A European Study. J Interpers Violence. 2016. March 6. Published online before print March 6, 2016, doi:10.1177/0886260516633204.

30 Kadri, N.; Benjelloun, R.; Kendili, I.; Khoubila, A. and Moussaoui, D. Internet and sexuality in Morocco, from cyber habits to psychopathology. Sexologies 2013, 22, e49-e53.

31 Ševčíková, A. and Daneback, K. Online pornography use in adolescence: Age and gender differences. Eur. J. Dev. Psychol. 2014, 11, 674-686.

32 Hald, G.M.; Kuyper, L.; Adam, P.C. and de Wit, J.B. Does viewing explain doing? Assessing the association between sexually explicit materials use and sexual behaviors in a large sample of Dutch adolescents and young adults. The Journal of Sexual Medicine 2013, 10, 2986-2995.

33 Romito, P. and Beltramini, L. Factors associated with exposure to violent or degrading pornography among high school students. J. Sch. Nurs. 2015, 31, 280-290.

34 Kastbom, A.A.; Sydsjö, G.; Bladh, M.; Priebe, G. and Svedin, C.G. Sexual debut before the age of 14 leads to poorer psychosocial health and risky behaviour in later life. Acta Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics. 2015, 104, 91-100.

35 Svedin, C.G.; Åkerman, I. and Priebe, G. Frequent users of pornography. A population based epidemiological study of Swedish male adolescents. Journal of Adolescence. 2011, 34, 779-788.

36 Weber, M.; Quiring, O. and Daschmann, G. Peers, parents and pornography: Exploring adolescents’ exposure to sexually explicit material and its developmental correlates. Sexuality and Culture. 2012, 16, 408-427.

37 Mattebo, M. Use of pornography and its associations with sexual experiences, lifestyles and health among adolescents. Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations, Uppsala University, Uppsala, 2014.