Skip to main content

Viewing pornography online

Pornography refers to sexually explicit material of adults such as images and videos, usually online, intended to cause sexual arousal.

Pornography can be viewed on dedicated online platforms owned by large companies. It can also be found on social media sites, apps or website popups. 

Pornography films feature actors and do not show real life sex or a variety of real life bodies. 

Sexual images and videos of people under 18 are not pornography. If you have viewed a sexual image or video of someone under 18, report the content to get it taken down.

What is the impact of porn?

Here’s what some of the scientific research says:

  • Watching porn can make real sex less enjoyable.
  • Porn can make people feel less happy in their relationships.
  • Porn can lead people to think about sex a lot more. This can make it harder for them to enjoy their friendships and other interests.
  • Porn can lead to people viewing others, especially women, as ‘sex objects’. This means they only see other people as things to have sex with, not as people with intelligence and feelings, and start to respect them less.
  • Over time, porn can shape the types of things you get turned on by. There’s some extreme porn out there so if your brain is trained to be turned on by the things you see, you could have trouble enjoying real sex.

Real life healthy sexual experiences

The sex you see in porn is very different from healthy real life sex.

Every healthy sexual experience (from kissing to sex) should have:

Consent

  • Only doing sexual activities which both people want to do; without any force, pressure or lies.
  • Both have full capacity to consent to sexual activity – drugs and alcohol can limit capacity.
  • Both people feel positively about sexual activity and have no negative emotions (such as anxiety, fear, sadness) about it.
  • It is always OK for either person to withdraw at any stage from sexual activity, and both respect this and stop.

Respect

  • Each person’s body, boundaries and feelings are as important as the others.
  • Neither person sees or treats the other like they are worth less than themselves.
  • Each person listens to what is being communicated, both in words and body language.

Honesty

There aren’t any lies, tricks, or not sharing important information. This includes being honest about:

  • Who you are, not lying or embellishing to ‘get them into bed’ 
  • Any health issues, including sexually transmitted diseases
  • What you both want from sexual activity, including which sexual activities you are ready for.

 Enjoyment 

  • Only doing sexual activities which both people want to do; without any force, pressure or lies.
  • Both have full capacity to consent to sexual activity – drugs and alcohol can limit capacity.

Worried you're watching too much porn?

  • Think about impact. Consider how your use of pornography could be impacting your thoughts, feelings, actions, behaviour and relationships.
  • Talk to someone. Talking with trusted friends about our worries can help us feel better and find solutions. You can also speak to a counsellor or GP to find extra support if needed.
  • Put barriers in place. Set some boundaries by using internet controls to limit access to pornography.
  • Distraction. Stay active and socialise with friends and family.
  • Learn more. Information is key, websites such as Your Brain on Porn or The Mix offer information and advice on pornography.
Did this article help you?

Please select an option

Thank you for your feedback

Need more help?

Report it

Click CEOP logo

If you are under 18, report online sexual abuse to one of our Child Protection Advisors at the CEOP Safety Centre.

Report now

If you're over 18, call 101 to speak to your local police. 

In an emergency

If you're ever in immediate harm or danger: 

  • Call the police on 999 straight away
  • Tell an adult you trust who will be able to support you through a difficult time

Talk to someone

Childline logo

Free, confidential support online and over the phone for young people under 19.

www.childline.org.uk

Call 0800 1111

The Mix logo

The Mix is a charity that provides free information and support for under 25s.

www.themix.org.uk

Use their crisis messenger by texting THEMIX to 85258.

See all help

Sexual content on social media

Sex and sexual content online

Recognising the impact of sexual content on social media.