College students admit to watching porn partly to fill gaps in sex education

A survey of UK students found that watching porn is considered a normal part of life -- but it's also enlightening

Published February 2, 2015 8:52PM (EST)

      (<a href=''>gremlin</a> via <a href=''>iStock</a>)
(gremlin via iStock)

Porn is a standard part of young people's lives, according to common sense -- but also according to young people! A recent study from the UK's National Union of Students found that college students overwhelmingly consider watching porn to be par for the course, but not necessarily just for its masturbatory inspiration. According to the study, students also rely on pornography as a supplement to subpar sex ed.

The survey, which polled about 2,500 university students from across the UK, half of whom were between the ages of 16 and 19, found that more than half of respondents admitted to watching porn (for men the rate was 80 percent, while for women it was 45 percent). Their opinions on the activity were interesting: 73 percent of the students asserted that porn provides unrealistic expectations, though fewer said it made them feel more self-conscious about their sexual performance. But 60 percent said they watched porn partly because they were curious about sex and wanted to learn more about topics left undiscussed in their public school sex ed courses -- specifically, consent and relationships, which were overwhelmingly under-explored.

“I find it alarming that sexual partners are listed as a top SRE source by our respondents," NUS vice-president Colum McGuire said. "Consider this in light of the fact that consent was never even raised for two thirds of respondents. ... The current system almost completely ignores LGBT relationships. In a country where we passed an equal marriage bill, this is the height of hypocrisy.”

Unfortunately, fewer than half of respondents felt that porn successfully helped them learn more about sex, which would be one thing if the students rated their sex education more highly. But the gap in education students are getting and their desire for it is frightening: 51 percent of respondents said they believed children between the ages of 11 and 13 should learn about sex and consent in schools. The poll, however, indicates that they probably won't.

By Jenny Kutner

MORE FROM Jenny Kutner

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Consent Nus Porn Pornography Relationships Sex Sex Ed Sex Education Uk