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28 February 2007
Study Suggests Many Adolescents Are "Heavy Porn Users"
by George Atkinson

A survey of both rural and urban adolescents has found that a disturbingly large number of young men are heavy consumers of pornography. Boys aged between 13 and 14 who live in rural areas were found to be the most likely of their age group to access pornography, said the University of Alberta (UA) researchers.

The figures make sobering reading for parents, as 90 percent of males and 70 percent of females reported accessing sexually explicit media content at least once. More than one-third of the boys reported viewing pornographic DVDs or videos "too many times to count", compared to eight percent of the girls surveyed. The majority of the students surveyed said the Internet was their main conduit to pornography.

The researchers reported that usage patterns were quite different between males and females, with boys doing the majority of deliberate viewing, and a significant number planning social time around viewing porn with male friends. Girls reported more accidental or unwanted exposure online.

While being curious about sexually explicit media is often considered a natural part of early adolescence, heavy consumption should be of concern, the study notes. "We don't know how we are changing sexual behaviors, attitudes, values and beliefs by enabling this kind of exposure and not talking with kids about it in any meaningful way," said UA researcher, Sonya Thompson. "What kinds of expectations will these young people have going into their first sexual relationships? It may be setting up a big disconnect between boys and girls and may be normalizing risky sex practices."

Rural males were found to be the biggest consumers of pornography and Thompson is unsure why, but suggests that parents may think that distance acts as a buffer. "Maybe they have a false sense of thinking they are far away from unhealthy influences," she posited. And while the majority of teens surveyed said their parents expressed concern about sexual content; that concern hasn't led to discussion or supervision, and few parents are using available technology to block sexual content.

"It indicates there is plenty of room for better parenting around pornography use. Parents need to improve dialogue with their children and their own awareness level. They have to be the ones setting the boundaries in the house," Thompson said. "Families using media together is no longer the norm, so parents need to know what their kids have access to in their alone time. Obviously it's a huge influence on kids and it needs to be talked about. There's a whole subculture we are not addressing."

Related articles:
Too Much Pornography A Problem

Source: University of Alberta




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