consuming sexual content as a minor

Questions and discussion about your sexual lives, choices, activities, ideas and experiences.
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consuming sexual content as a minor

Unread post by shrokwok »

So I was exposed to sexual media when I was pretty young (10-11?) and I've been consuming it ever since (I'm in my early teens). Recently I've seen a lot of people discussing how it is unhealthy and harmful for younger people to be exposed to sexual content, and I admit that I agree with them. I've noticed that I sometimes use that content as a distraction from life even when I'm not in the mood, and it has probably skewed my view of sex, relationships, body image, as well as given me some internalized transphobia. I've become a very sexual person and I think about it so much, but maybe that also has to do with hormones and the fact that I was already a very sexual person (when I was young I was very curious about it). I feel very guilty that sexual media has become a normal part of my life when I'm this young. So now I'm wondering: Do I need to stop or limit my consumption? If so, how can I do that? How do I know whether I have an addiction or not? I'm worried that I won't be able to stop. I need it as a distraction while I masturbate otherwise I would think of my own body and get dysphoria/insecurities. There are only some specific scenarios/fantasies where I'm distracted enough that I don't need any media.

Also, I'm curious about this topic in general: How do we keep this type of media from harming tweens/teens? In my opinion, the solution is to educate them on internet safety and how porn/smut can be unrealistic or even harmful, since we can't shelter them from it forever. Of course with younger children, we need to monitor their internet usage. The problem is, some parents take that too far and it becomes invasive in the older years. It's normal for tweens/teens to explore sexuality in this way, but how do we let them do that while still keeping them safe? I'd like to hear your thoughts on this.
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Re: consuming sexual content as a minor

Unread post by Siân »

Hi shrokwok,

Welcome to the boards! You've come with some great questions to kick of with.

Generally, we I tend not to make a lot of value judgements about sexual media - I'm not here to argue that porn is always bad or always good. It's all down to how you feel about and interact with it, and if I'm going to talk values I'm going to be talking about how it's produced and how to feel confident no-one was harmed to make it. This article talks about just how long sexual media has been around for, which is good context: Making Sense of Sexual Media

So how do you feel about it? How do you interact with it? It sounds like sometimes you're interacting with it out of habit rather than because you want to. Perhaps that's something to notice and think of other things that can fill those distracted moments if it bothers you. Noticing that it's skewing your ideas about sex and bodies, and creating some internalised biases sounds like something that is worth doing something about. One option is to look at less sexual content, sure, but what else can you do? Can you look for media from a wider range of people that gives more realistic depictions of what's real and okay? Can you make a point of learning about what realistic sexual experiences might actually be like and spotting when you're seeing something unrealistic? Something else?

We generally don't talk about sex, porn or masturbation being addictive. Sam wrote a really good bit on that here: I'm an abuse survivor, and I'm worried about sexual addiction. I particularly like the pizza analogy! If you are finding it intrusive then sure we can talk about cutting down but we're not going to tell you you're about to get addicted. Does that help?

Figuring out sexual media's place in the world and minimising the harms from it is a big topic. You're right that education is a massive part of it, as well as (in my opinion) making sure that there is enough diversity of depictions of sexuality out there that we don't get trapped in a single story of how it "should" go. I'm more into having open conversations with young people so that they can talk about the things they are seeing and understand it better than hoping that parental controls will just do the job for you - censorship rarely really works and just pushes the topic further underground!
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