Pornography use predicts decreased religious observance in teens and young adults, study says


Faithful families, take notice! A recent study suggests that viewing pornography leads to lower levels of religious observance and belief in God.


The researchers, Samuel L. Perry of University of Oklahoma and George M. Hayward of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, wanted to explore “how viewing pornography may shape young Americans’ connection to key social and cultural institutions, like religion.” They used data from the first three portions of a nationally representative, longitudinal survey of young Americans. When the survey began, the participants were between thirteen and seventeen years of age. At the end of the third portion of the study, the participants ranged in age between eighteen and twenty-four years old. For those unfamiliar with academic research procedure, such data is difficult and expensive to obtain and considered the “gold standard” of data collection.


Upon examination of the data, Perry and Hayward found that, the more often teens and young adults viewed pornography, the less often they attended church and prayed. The participants who viewed more pornography were also less likely to value religion, perceived less closeness to God, and had more religious doubts than those who did not view pornography.


The article reiterates previous research in noting the probable role of cognitive dissonance in these results. In other words, religious individuals who engage with pornography feel the conflict between their actions and their religious values. Such conflict is extremely emotionally uncomfortable, and we as humans either change our values or our behavior to alleviate these feelings of guilt and shame. Unfortunately, changing one’s values is often easier in the moment than discontinuing habit-forming behavior like pornography use.


To read the study in full, click here!


Research shows again and again that pornography erodes the best of each of us: our values, our self-control, and our relationships. Parents who want to protect their homes and families can no longer afford to do nothing! Talk to your children about online pornography from infancy. Initially, these conversations won’t be about sexuality or explicit content, but about kindness, respect, and house rules for technology use. However, these simple themes will lay a foundation and prepare both the parents and the kids over time to tackle more advanced topics like pornography, self-control, social media use, and more.


Talking to your kids about pornography can be intimidating, but it is easier than it sounds and absolutely essential. Click here to read more about family internet safety on our blog and start the conversation today!


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