Bidirectional relationship between Compulsive Pornography Use and Mental Health Issues: The Role of Body-esteem and Quality Parent-Child Relationship among Adolescents
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Use of internet porn is growing rapidly. Abuse of porn appears to be positively related to mental health issues among adolescents. Insights into this relationship are relevant to understand how porn abuse and mental health issues are related and may be mitigated. However, existing studies fall short in providing insights as they are mainly based on cross-sectional data, rarely consider a bidirectional relationship and fail to study relevant underlying mechanisms such as levels of body-esteem, and potential risk groups such as adolescents with low quality of parent-child relationships. Therefore, using two waves of longitudinal data (n=275, Mage = 15.06) from Dutch adolescents that participated the Studies on Trajectories of Adolescent Relationships and Sexuality research project, this study investigates bidirectional relationship between compulsive porn use and mental health issues considering mediation by body-esteem and moderation by the quality of parent-child relationships. The findings indicate that compulsive porn use does not lead to significantly higher chance of mental health issues and mental health issues do not lead to significantly higher odds for compulsive porn use. Because of the absence of significant associations between mental health issues and compulsive porn use mediation by body-esteem could not be tested. It could therefore not be detected that these effects occur through affecting body-esteem, nor was a direct correlation between body-esteem and compulsive porn use found. A higher quality of parent-child relationship did, however, impact the relationship between mental health issues and compulsive porn use, though inverse of expectations. Based on the study’s findings, alternative explanations and avenues for future research are discussed.