A Scary Amount of Young People Are Going to Porn & Google for Sex Ed

by Natalie Kiser

May 19, 2022 at 2:22pm PM EDT

teens googling sex education porn

A lack of solid, science-backed sex education means young people are turning to porn and search engines for help. ijeab/Adobe Stock

Five years after  Pornhub launched a sex ed site, adolescents, teens, and twenty-somethings still don’t know where to find inclusive, safe, and trustworthy relationship and sexual education (RSE) on the internet, according to recent survey from Fumble.

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The UK-based sexual health organization queried hundreds of people from the ages of 11 to 25, and found that while nearly 90 percent of respondents actively wanted a “happy and healthy” digital destination providing RSE to young people, only 21 percent knew which educational content was safe and/or reliable. Thus, young people are forced to turn to what they do know — porn. Over half of those surveyed admitted to specifically seeking out pornographic content in the hopes it would help them better understand sex and/or sexual health, though few actually found it useful (hence: Pornhub’s attempt at sex ed).

While disappointing, these findings aren’t exactly surprising — nor are they exclusive to the United Kingdom. Recent research from Rutgers School of Public Health and New York’s Guttmacher Institute demonstrates a dire need for more extensive and accessible sexual education and information for young people across the globe, and highlights a “number of areas” in which the United States can improve sex ed for American youth. Because a lack of sexual health education can have crucial consequences, such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), unintentional pregnancy, sexual and domestic violence, and more, according to research from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Furthermore, abstinence-only education makes no difference in how long people wait to have sex. And young people are going online to try and teach themselves about it regardless of whether or not said resources exist: Nearly three quarters of respondents specifically surf the web to find more information, hear other people’s views and experiences, and to find answers in private. But almost everyone agreed that young people need online sex ed that’s dependable, judgement-free, and actually inclusive — aka, not solely written for able-bodied, cis-het individuals in monogamous relationships.

As for who will be responsible for creating these materials? The youths, of course! 84 percent said they hope to be involved in creating sexual education content, covering topics like relationships, sex, identity, healthy bodies, and mental health, and 75 percent would like educate their parents and caregivers in the process.

Until this well-deserved dream becomes a reality, long live  TikTok sexual health educators.

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