SHOCKING: Only 11 percent of teens say viewing porn is bad

by Michael Foust |

VENTURA, Calif. (Christian Examiner) – A generational divide exists between teens and adults on not only pornography usage but but also attitudes about it, and the church cannot afford to ignore the widening gap, says Barna Group editor-in-chief Roxanne Stone.

Stone addressed the differences in a new blog post, "Porn 2.0: The Sexting Crisis," in which she said that younger generations "use porn more regularly" than adults and also are "less likely to think there's anything wrong with it." Pointing to Barna research, Stone noted that half of adults think viewing porn is wrong, while only-third of teens and young adults think the same. Additionally, a majority of teens and young adults consider "not recycling" more immoral than viewing porn.

"Teens and young adults are living in an environment where porn is more acceptable—and more ubiquitous than ever before," Stone wrote. "When they talk to their friends about pornography, the conversations are cavalier.

Only 11 percent of teens and just 5 percent of young adults say their friends think viewing porn is bad. The vast majority say their conversations with friends around porn are either neutral, accepting or even encouraging.

A plurality say it's just assumed we all look at porn sometimes. When it comes to watching pornography, teens and young adults aren't getting accountability from their friends—they are getting peer pressure.

That peer pressure comes in the form of not only sexting but also posting provocative pictures on Snapchat and Instagram, Stone wrote. She said the Barna Group calls it "porn 2.0," and it's an "acceptable reality" for teens and young adults to send nude photos to one another.

Pop culture has contributed to this lackadaisical attitude toward nudity, Stone wrote.

"They've seen this behavior—this sort of self-pornification—rewarded when their celebrity icons have done it," she wrote. "Look at Kim Kardashian who basically broke Instagram with her recent nude photos. Young people have come of age in an increasingly pornified American culture that encourages and rewards the pornographic impulse. Just visit the home page for Instagram—these are not fun, life shots. These are seductive images meant to market oneself."

A total of 62 percent of "teens and young adults say they have received a nude image—generally from a boyfriend or girlfriend," Stone said, quoting Barna research. Additionally, 40 percent have sent a nude image.

Men, she added, often are the initiators.

"They are the ones asking for the pictures. They are also the ones often sending the pictures. However, not all guys are engaging in this. There are plenty of men who aren't asking for or sending nude photos," Stone wrote. "They are choosing not to do this and so they are, primarily, immune to the phenomenon.

"Girls, on the other hand, are indiscriminately targeted," Stone continued. "They may not initiate, but they will inevitably be forced to respond to a request for a photo or to a photo showing up in their text. Whether they want to engage or not, women will experience this reality."

Such behavior is damaging, she said, noting that girls often think, "If I want him to like me, I have to do this. All the other girls would do this."

"It's destructive to our ideas of healthy sexuality, our body images and self-confidence, our fledgling relationships and our call to live in intimate, embodied presence with one another," Stone wrote. "Porn 2.0 is a reality we can't ignore as ministers and spiritual leaders. It is the reality our young people are living in—and a significant new contour to the life of the single, dating teen and young adult."