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As the internet continues to grow and dominate popular attitudes and discourse, we asked Gen Z and Gen Alpha, who are growing up surrounded by the influences of the internet to weigh in on its effects. They considered the way that sex and relationships are represented on social media and in pornography and discussed how that has potentially shaped the way each are perceived in reality.
"Yes, because people use filters to make themselves look more attractive and it can make you feel like you are not good enough."
“I think that the Internet are setting standards on relationships and making everything perfect whereas in real life relationships are nothing like that. People also have their ups and downs. All relationships are different.”
"The internet does have an effect, but there are also other things that impact the way we view sex and relationships too such as Family and Friends. Social media has a big impact however, and can cause young people to have a distorted view of what a healthy relationship is. Viewing other people's lives can make us think ours is not good enough, and the same happens for body image."
The results are clear among our 11-18 voters and they are holding the internet to account. The vast majority of those who voted believe it has an effect on the way we view sex and relationships and the comments delve deeper into why. They mentioned reality TV, social media and pornography displaying unrealistic examples of what constitutes a realistic, healthy relationship.
Comparitively, our age 5-11 voters were less certain about whether the internet changes the way we feel about ourselves. Over half voted yes but interestingly, 40% voted no. The comments showed that many of our youngest voters are aware of the negative aspects of the internet but are able to see past it and recognise the beauty in difference.
We delved a little deeper into our results this week with some optional, additional questions. They helped us to understand how much of an effect the internet has and discover which topics young people want to learn more about in schools.
“Reality TV creates a warped view and idolises some very toxic relationships.”
“Porn sites and reality tv shows like love island.”