Cross-sectional evidence suggests that pornography use is related to lower mental well-being among adolescents but it remains unclear if changes in well-being are related to the dynamics of pornography use within this population. We examined the relationship between pornography use, subjective well-being, symptoms of depressions and anxiety, and self-esteem in two independent panel samples (N = 455; N = 858) of Croatian adolescents using cross-lagged path analysis and lagged linear mixed models. After controlling for impulsiveness and family environment—factors that are unlikely to be influenced by pornography use—earlier levels of pornography use were not significantly associated with subsequent decreases in subjective well-being across gender and panel. However, pornography use was associated with increases in both self-esteem and symptoms of depression and anxiety, albeit only among adolescent women in one of the two panels. In addition, low subjective well-being was associated with a subsequent increase in pornography use, but only in female adolescents in one panel. This study’s results are not consistent with concerns about pornography use negatively contributing to male adolescents’ psychological well-being, but suggest potential antagonistic links between pornography use and specific facets of mental well-being in adolescent women. Such links should be considered tentative until verified with further research.
Pornography addiction as a cause for high rate of depression among youths