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Does the internet affect the way we view sex and relationships?

7th-14th October 2022

Back to results overview

42498

Total votes

13261

5-11 votes

29237

11-18 votes

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.

Student voice

Primary school

Greater London

"Yes, because people use filters to make themselves look more attractive and it can make you feel like you are not good enough."

Secondary school

Kent

“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.”

College

West Yorkshire

"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."

Weekly Results

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.

Where do people learn more about sex and relationships?

  • Almost 20% of our 11-18 students chose 'pornography sites' as the place where they learn more about sex and relationships.
  • This compared with less than 10% voting for family and almost 17% voting for school.
  • For this question, students were able to choose all the options that applied.

Which topics do you feel young people need to learn more about?

  • For this question, students were able to choose all the options that applied. Most chose the majority of the options available, thus showing a clear desire to learn more about important but sensitive topics in schools.
  • These topics included abusive relationships, body image, consent and sex.

Where have you seen bad examples set for healthy attitudes towards relationships & sex?

“Reality TV creates a warped view and idolises some very toxic relationships.”

“Porn sites and reality tv shows like love island.”