How to Talk to Your Kids About Sex and Pornography

Aug. 28, 2020

Megan Maas, PhD, is an assistant professor in Human Development and Family Studies. Her work sits at the intersection of sexual violence prevention and sexual health promotion. Her award-winning research, recognized by the American Psychological Association, focuses on adolescent sexual socialization, with an emphasis on the bi-directional role that social media, sexting, and online pornography play in the development of attitudes and behaviour related to sexuality and gender. For the last 10 years, she has been invited to talk on this subject for audiences of students, parents, and teachers at universities and organizations across the US. 

On this podcast, Dr Maas discusses the allure of pornography and its impact on relationships and young people. She talks about gender differences with regard to how pornography is perceived and research that suggests it has become a popular medium for both men and women. She discusses the societal influences that cause many people to associate danger with romance, morality and ethics in the porn industry, and how best to talk to your children about sex and sexual imagery on the Internet.

Here’s the outline of this interview with Megan Maas:

[00:01:32] Megan's background.

[00:04:04] The allure of pornography.

[00:05:57] Book: Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships, by Christopher Ryan; Podcast: Civilized to Death: Are We Really Making Progress?

[00:07:51] Anthropologist Helen Fisher.

[00:09:46] The history of porn.

[00:14:19] The role of erotic literature; Book: 50 Shades of Grey, by E.L. James.

[00:15:00] Audio porn: women aroused by sound.

[00:16:13] Women’s arousal not limited by gender; Study: Chivers, Meredith L., Michael C. Seto, and Ray Blanchard. "Gender and sexual orientation differences in sexual response to sexual activities versus gender of actors in sexual films." Journal of personality and social psychology 93.6 (2007): 1108.

[00:17:17] Women enjoy gay male pornography; Paper: Neville, Lucy. "Male gays in the female gaze: Women who watch m/m pornography." Porn Studies 2.2-3 (2015): 192-207.

[00:17:40] Coolidge effect; Studied in humans: Hughes, Susan M., et al. "Experimental Evidence for Sex Differences in Sexual Variety Preferences: Support for the Coolidge Effect in Humans." Archives of Sexual Behavior (2020).

[00:19:32] Women are as likely to cheat as men, especially when ovulating; Studies: 1. Mark, Kristen P., Erick Janssen, and Robin R. Milhausen. "Infidelity in heterosexual couples: Demographic, interpersonal, and personality-related predictors of extradyadic sex." Archives of sexual behavior 40.5 (2011): 971-982; 2.  Haselton, Martie G., and Steven W. Gangestad. "Conditional expression of women's desires and men's mate guarding across the ovulatory cycle." Hormones and behavior 49.4 (2006): 509-518.

[00:20:41] Egg may have a preference for a particular sperm; Study: Fitzpatrick, John L., et al. "Chemical signals from eggs facilitate cryptic female choice in humans." Proceedings of the Royal Society B 287.1928 (2020): 20200805.

[00:21:19] Oral birth control can affect who you’re attracted to; Study: Roberts, S. Craig, et al. "Relationship satisfaction and outcome in women who meet their partner while using oral contraception." Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 279.1732 (2012): 1430-1436.

[00:22:14] Romance has become associated with drama and danger; Megan’s Huffington Post article, 'Boys Will Be Boys': The Lie That Keeps It All Going; Blog post: Love hurts: What we learn from Beauty & the Beast, Twilight, and Fifty Shades of Grey;

[00:24:49] Sex education.

[00:29:55] How porn affects relationships - is it improving things or hurting?

[00:32:17] Simon Marshall, PhD; Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Books by Russ Harris.

[00:32:35] Morality and ethics in the porn industry.

[00:37:39] Megan’s TED Talk: How the Evolution of Porn Changed Adolescence | Megan Maas | TEDxMSU; Interview with Megan on YouTube

[00:39:58] Book: The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children, by Alison Gopnik.

[00:40:54] Advice for parents.

[00:43:25] Podcast: How to Live Well in a High Tech World, with Cal Newport.

[00:43:47] Podcasts with Ashley Mason: 1. Paleo Psychology with Ashley Mason PhD, Mindfulness and Cognitive; 2.  Behavioral Strategies for Diabetes and Sleep Problems; 3. How to Use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia.

[00:45:59] Talking to kids about sex.

[00:46:27] Books Megan recommends.

[00:47:23] Book: Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today's Young Kids, by Kristen Jenson.

[00:49:02] E-book: Talking with Kids about...Porn: A Guide

[00:54:07] People who are more religious use more porn; Study: Whitehead, Andrew L., and Samuel L. Perry. "Unbuckling the Bible belt: A state-level analysis of religious factors and Google searches for porn." The Journal of Sex Research 55.3 (2018): 273-283.

[00:54:54] Book: The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us About the Mind, by Alison Gopnik.

[01:00:20] Sam Harris Podcast: #213 - The Worst Epidemic.

[01:07:56] Megan’s website: meganmaas.com.

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