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What are the risks of watching porn?

Hi Sam, I'm 15 and watch porn, sometimes as frequently as 1-2 times a day. I know that watching porn is legal for people under 18 as long as it isn't underage, but do people my age normally watch it? If so, what are the risks of it? I know that porn is unrealistic but I think that the things I watch become sexual fantasies that I want to fulfil in real life (after I've reached the age of consent). Am I putting myself at risk in any way? What things should I put in place to prevent this from happening? I've been masturbating to porn since I turned 15, and it can help me relax and unwind sometimes. Are there any problems with this? -Many thanks!

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Sam

Hi there,

Porn is made for adults but it's natural to become curious about adult things as you grow older.  Lots of young people are confused about whether it's okay to watch porn or not. This is a decision you need to make for yourself but before making it,  it's good to know all the facts and to hear about the risks.

It's not illegal for you to watch porn - it's illegal for someone to sell or give porn to you and it's illegal for anyone under 18 to be in porn. The law says you need to be 18 before someone can sell porn to you because there’re some risks to your mental health and well-being that you might not be aware of if you're younger.

As you write, porn is often unrealistic. If porn is the only sexual experience you have then when it comes to your own experiences in real life, you might find things aren’t as you expected. It often shows people with unrealistic body sizes and shapes doing things that might work for the camera, but not for the actors. The purpose of porn is so that other people can view it - in real life, sex is usually for the people involved. That's quite different and is something that's learned as you have relationships. If you try and treat relationships as they are shown in porn, it's probably not going to go well.

There are other risks in watching porn - especially online. There are lots of different types of pornography and some of it can be extreme or disturbing to watch. Some kinds of porn are illegal to download and watch, which you might do accidentally. By exposing yourself to porn online there are risks that you're going to see things you might not be ready for as you won’t get any warning.

Finally there are  other dangers - some porn sites can try and download viruses or programmes to harm your computer or mobile, there’re scams that trick you into paying money and there’re adults who try and take advantage of young people and ask them to send nudes of themselves. It's important that you stay safe if you're going to choose to watch porn and being aware of the dangers is the first step.

Thanks for sharing. If you feel like your porn habits are putting you in danger then you can always talk to one of our counsellors - they are here to help. You can also share your thoughts with other young people on our message boards.

Take care.

Sam

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