Online porn

This page is for ages 12+. Some of the language and types of things explained aren't appropriate for younger children.

Lots of young people watch porn or are curious about it. It's normal to want to know more, feel aroused or even disgusted by it. However you feel - there are a few things that are good to know about online porn.

Things to know about porn

You might look at porn as a way of learning about sex or finding out what certain body parts look like. It's not illegal to look at most porn but it's important to remember that porn is usually created for adults.

Watching or sharing some types of porn is illegal. For example, degrading porn (which can include someone urinating on another person), violent porn (which includes things like rape or abuse) or anything that shows sexual behaviour with children (anybody under the age of 18) are all against the law.

It's against the law to have, share or look at images of child sexual abuse. This is sometimes called child pornography.

What you need to remember:

  • it's okay to be curious or aroused by porn, nudity and sex
  • porn is not the same as reality
  • watching lots of porn all the time can make you think about sex and relationships in a negative way
  • some types of porn are illegal
  • if someone is pressuring you to watch porn, you don't have to if you don't want to.

Porn is a fantasy, not reality

It's important to remember that porn is made for adults. And most of the time porn doesn't show what sex is really like. In fact it's usually completely different from sex in real life, here's some examples:

  • Myth 1: People have sex all the time
    Reality: Not everyone chooses to do this
  • Myth 2: Men have large penises and women have large breasts
    Reality: Breasts and penises come in different shapes and sizes
  • Myth 3: Men ejaculate (come) on faces
    Reality: Not everyone allows this or feels okay with it
  • Myth 4 : People have unprotected sex
    Reality: This can cause STIs or pregnancy
  • Myth 5: People always have good sex and always orgasm
    Reality: Sex can sometimes be painful or awkward, and people don't always have orgasms
  • Myth 6: People often have little or no pubic hair
    Reality: Pubic hair is natural 
  • Myth 7: People like being forced into sexual acts
    Reality: This is wrong and could also be illegal 

There are also some types of porn that involve violence, rape and sexual assault. It's normal for you to find this upsetting or uncomfortable to watch. This type of porn is against the law.

You can contact CEOP to make a report if you're worried about porn or anything else you've seen online.

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How porn can make you feel

Watching porn can leave you with mixed feelings because it's not something people usually talk about openly. You might feel:

  • excited or aroused by what you've seen
  • interested in watching different types of porn
  • worried about what will happen if someone finds out you look at porn
  • embarrassed or confused about enjoying porn because you think it's wrong
  • disgusted about liking porn because it feels dirty
  • angry about how some people are shown in porn or how it's often stereotypical
  • ashamed about watching porn because you think it is against your religion or beliefs.

Porn and your body

You might compare yourself to people in porn. Or you may think you should look a certain way. Porn is very different from real life and watching it shouldn't make you feel bad about yourself.

Remind yourself that:

  • people in porn are usually actors and many of them have breast enhancements, plastic surgery and wear lots of make-up
  • sometimes certain actors are chosen because they have large penises or big breasts
  • videos and photos are often adjusted and airbrushed
  • it can be normal to feel unsexy or unattractive when you look at other naked people
  • if you're getting nasty comments from people, you could talk to other young people on our message boards, a close friend, a trusted adult or talk to a Childline counsellor.

If watching porn makes you feel bad about yourself, then doing something positive can help. You could:

  • focus on hobbies and try new or interesting things which make you feel happy
  • try not to compare yourself to other people - get advice about how you look and building confidence and self-esteem
  • delete porn videos from your phone, get rid of DVDs or plan to do something else when you get the urge to watch porn.

Porn, Relationships and peer pressure

Some couples like to watch porn. If you're being asked to watch porn with someone or make a video of yourself, you should think of what feels right for you. Anything done in a sexual relationship should be agreed on first. You may also want to think of how looking at porn or making a sexual video could change your relationship with the person you're with.

Being forced to watch porn is a type of sexual abuse. If anyone is pressuring you to watch porn or do sexual things, this is wrong. You can always get support from our counsellors.

Tips if you're being pressured to watch porn:

Whether you're in a relationship or not, there might come a time when you have sex or when you look at porn. To help you stay in control, try:

  • Be honest
    Say how you feel and say what you think is right or wrong
  • Talk
    Explain what you want to happen and what you don't want to happen
  • Feel safe
    Making sure you feel safe where you are and with who you're with
  • Being comfortable
    Say if you don't feel comfortable with anything. Just because you have kissed
    someone or done something sexual, it doesn't mean you have to have sex or do
    other sexual acts.

Am I watching too much porn?

You may feel worried if you're watching porn a lot and it's affecting your relationships, school work, family life or hobbies.

Watching a lot of porn can change the way you treat people as you may start to compare them to porn actors.

You might also expect them to do things you've seen in porn. It's important to think about your behaviour and be honest with yourself. You can always speak to one of our counsellors for free, if you'd like some advice. 

You might feel worried if you:

  • struggle to cope without porn and it becomes one of the main things in your life
  • feel uncomfortable about how much porn you're watching
  • don't enjoy sexual experiences with your partner because you prefer porn
  • feel the need to watch different types of porn because you get bored easily
  • feel like porn stops you from doing other activities.

Tips to help you stop watching porn

You can try some of these tips if you feel like you need to stop watching porn:

  • distractions like reading, drawing, listening to music or playing games
  • exercising and doing sports or hobbies which you enjoy
  • setting small goals to watch less porn until you’re ready to stop completely
  • talking to other people on the message boards, someone you trust or a counsellor
  • writing down what you want to change and how you want to feel, then looking at that list when you get the urge to watch porn.