[IPS] Daily Psychological Series 2: Adolescents' porn literacy and sexual self-determination capability

What is the next step in providing the best care for the young adults’ community?

By 양미린 Mirin Yang, MSc

Nowadays, adolescents can easily access pornography only through a few clicks on the Internet. The effect of pornography on the development of children and adolescents has been widely researched with a range of controversial results. Yet, there is no doubt that pornography constructs a false portrayal of sexuality.

Experts in the fields of psychology, public health and sex education express concerns that current children and adolescents are susceptible to sexual assaults, due to early development of their sexual perception, precocious puberty, advanced technology and the frequent exposure to media. Having restrictions on the use of media contents and technology may not provide the long-term effect. Thus, the experts came up with a new approach of improving individuals’ porn literacy.

Porn literacy aims to teach adolescents to have a critical view of pornography contents and to develop an appropriate perception of sexuality. Additionally, porn literacy allows adolescents to have responsibilities in relationships and demonstrates sexual self-determination capability.

In the US, most public schools provide sex education, despite a slight difference in each curriculum. In general, such curriculum involves teaching the history of pornography, legality, gender norms, double standard, healthy relationships, and contraception. However, there is no program that aims to train porn literacy.

Sexual self-determination capability refers to the understanding of sexual behaviour and the ability to determine the consequences of such behaviour in different situations. Unfortunately, sexuality is not a widely discussed topic in Korea, nor encouraged to do so. Due to the lack of open discussions and sex education at home and at school, adolescents rely on pornography for information and develop inappropriate perception.

There are continuous news reports regarding sexual assaults and abuse. There are strong feelings of anger and distress from the public. The society should consider the best long-term solutions, such as developing appropriate laws. Just because sex is an uncomfortable topic to discuss at home or at school, we may be taking away adolescents’ opportunities to develop sexual self-determination capability. Instead of avoiding the conversation and calling it “protection” from pornography, we should see what the most important next step is in providing the best care for the young adults’ community.


APA Monitor on Psychology

이정민, 이수정,  염현이 (2020). 아동청소년의 성적 자기결정권에 관한 연령추 정 연구. 이화젠더법학, 12(2), 95-133.