Floyd Godfrey, PhD


Adolescents and Pornography: A Review of 20 Years of Research

By Floyd Godfrey, PhD

The prevalence of adolescent exposure to pornography has been a growing concern over the past two decades. As a clinician with years of experience observing the impacts of pornography on young individuals, I find the comprehensive review by Peter and Valkenburg (2016) on this subject both timely and essential. Their study, "Adolescents and Pornography: A Review of 20 Years of Research," published in The Journal of Sex Research, offers valuable insights into the trends, psychological effects, and potential interventions necessary to address this pervasive issue.

Educational Strategies

Educating adolescents about the realities and consequences of pornography is critical. According to Peter and Valkenburg (2016), the increasing accessibility of explicit content due to technological advancements has led to a rise in early exposure among teens. This early exposure can distort their understanding of sex, relationships, and consent. As mental health professionals, we must advocate for comprehensive sexual education that includes discussions about pornography. This education should aim to demystify pornography, highlight its potential harms, and promote healthy sexual development. Incorporating these discussions into school curricula and parental guidance can help mitigate the adverse effects seen in adolescents who consume pornography.

The Role of Therapeutic and Coaching Interventions

Therapeutic interventions play a crucial role in addressing the psychological ramifications of pornography consumption among adolescents. Peter and Valkenburg (2016) highlight several adverse effects, including increased sexual aggression, distorted sexual norms, and potential addiction. As a certified sex addiction specialist, I've observed that adolescents often lack the tools to navigate these complex feelings and behaviors. Therapy can provide a safe space for them to explore their experiences, understand the impact of pornography on their mental health, and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

One effective approach is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps individuals identify and change harmful thought patterns and behaviors related to pornography use. Additionally, involving parents in the therapeutic process can enhance outcomes, as they can support their children in developing healthier habits and attitudes towards sexuality. Peer support groups, both in-person and online, also offer valuable community support, helping adolescents feel less isolated in their struggles.

Psychological Insights and Evidence-Based Programs

Research by Peter and Valkenburg (2016) aligns with the findings of other experts in the field, such as Patrick Carnes and Eric Schultz, who have extensively observed the psychological patterns of addiction. They emphasize that pornography addiction in adolescents can lead to long-term issues, including relationship difficulties and impaired sexual satisfaction. Implementing evidence-based recovery programs that address these psychological patterns is essential.

Programs like those developed by John Hinson and Kim Buck, which focus on understanding the underlying emotional triggers and developing resilience, are particularly effective. These programs often include a combination of individual therapy, group therapy, and educational workshops, all designed to provide a holistic approach to recovery. By integrating these strategies, we can better support adolescents in overcoming the challenges posed by pornography addiction.

In conclusion, the research by Peter and Valkenburg (2016) underscores the importance of addressing adolescent exposure to pornography through comprehensive education, targeted therapeutic interventions, and evidence-based recovery programs. As mental health professionals, it is our responsibility to guide young individuals towards healthier sexual behaviors and support them in overcoming the detrimental effects of pornography.

Floyd Godfrey, PhD is a Clinical Sexologist and a Certified Sex Addiction Specialist. He has been guiding clients since 2000 and currently speaks and provides consulting and mental health coaching across the globe. To learn more about Floyd Godfrey, PhD, please visit his website: www.FloydGodfrey.com


Peter, J., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2016). Adolescents and pornography: A review of 20 years of research. The Journal of Sex Research, 53(4–5), 509–531. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2016.1143441


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