Pornography gives unrealistic expectations of what people should look like. It can lead both girls and boys to have anxieties and feel under pressure to have a certain body image.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Pornography can change the way you think about people.

An emphasis on physical appearance is prevalent in today’s culture: in films, magazines and advertising. Such an emphasis will make it harder to establish good relationships and to treat the opposite sex with love and respect.
Pornography gives unrealistic expectations of what people should look like. It can lead both girls and boys to have anxieties and feel under pressure to have a certain body image.

Pornography encourages a self-centred attitude that other people should provide you with entertainment and enjoyment without you having to put in any effort or make any sacrifice. It is not just the looks of those in pornographic images that are exaggerated and unrealistic, but also their behaviour. This is why pornography is a very unhelpful and damaging way for young people to learn about sex. Many pornographic images show extreme violent and abusive behaviour. Using pornography can normalise behaviour that should never happen in a loving and caring relationship.

Martin Daubney [1] worked as an editor of the lad’s magazine ‘Loaded’ for 8 years but quit his job and has spoken out about the dangers of pornography. He has subsequently written about his reasons for quitting. He explains how raising his son made him feel ashamed of his job and more aware of the issues surrounding pornography.

Back then, it never once occurred to me that we were objectifying women or doing any harm. I fiercely denied that Loaded was a ‘gateway’ to harder pornographic magazines. But such thoughts came home to roost five years later in 2009, when I finally grew up and became a father.

Martin Daubney, Former editor of Loaded Magazine

Pornography can damage your mental health by leaving lasting images in the mind.

Viewing pornography is particularly serious as it leaves images in the mind that are very difficult to erase. This can cause difficulties in future relationships.

I’ve tried getting rid of my smartphone, getting rid of easy ways to get onto porn… but then I visualise it instead.

Callum, aged 19

Pornography makes you self-absorbed and you stop wanting to see family and friends.

Many people try using pornography to escape from their problems or as a way of feeling better when they are down. This means that they are likely to spend less and less time with those who care about them, and more time alone and actually end up feeling worse.

I stopped leaving my room and seeing my friends because when I was away from the pornography, I was dying to get back.

Jamie, aged 13

Jamie is not alone in finding that pornography caused him to withdraw from his friends and family. Psychotherapist John Woods [2] observes that:

Many of the boys I treat stop going out and seeing friends, and drop out of school because life seems easier and more gratifying in front of a computer screen.

Pornography can become addictive.

It creates a craving for more and more “exciting” material. People use pornography to experience arousal and excitement, and the internet fuels the want for progressively more extreme material. Many pornography users testify that, as time goes on, they feel the need to watch more extreme material to experience the same excitement. Watching pornography changes the chemicals in the brain. Studies show that pornography causes the brain cells to release large amounts of pleasure chemicals (e.g. dopamine) in a similar way to addictive drugs. After a time, this causes changes in the way the brain is wired so that a user needs an ever increasing dose of pornography to achieve the same sensation. These changes give rise to the addiction which makes it more difficult for the person to stop watching pornography [3] (see

Pornography can also lead to violent behaviour.

A lot of pornography is violent. Research in 2021 [4]  found that one in every eight titles on the front pages of the UK’s most popular porn websites described sexual violence against women and girls.  Even these sites, described as “mainstream” pornography, are sending out a message that violence is a normal and natural part of sex and relationships.

Following the murder of Sarah Everard in March 2021, the trial revealed that her killer had been a user of violent pornography [5].

Viewing violent pornography makes abusive behaviour seem less shocking.

It is sad when people prefer to isolate themselves rather than spend time with others. The images on a screen cannot offer you what real life relationships can. Using pornography may make you excited or satisfied for a short time, but it cannot offer you lasting happiness or fulfilment.

  1. Editor (Martin Daubney) of “lads’ mag” expresses regret over promoting pornography:
  2. John Woods, Jamie is 13 and hasn’t even kissed a girl. But he’s now on the Sex Offender Register after online porn warped his mind… Daily Mail, 26th April 2012
  4. Fiona Vera-Gray, Clare McGlynn, et al, Sexual violence as a sexual script in mainstream online pornography,British Journal of Criminology 61 (5), April 2021
  5. BBC News, Sarah Everard murder: Wayne Couzens given whole-life sentence, The BBC, 30th September 2021