PORNOGRAPHY AND HARM TO CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
Porn and the internet
- Claims vary from 4-30% of the Internet being sex or porn related, depending on how Internet traffic is measured.[i]
- Ranked relative to other sites, traffic to PornHub has a global ranking of 65; RedTube ranks at 165; YouPorn at 175.[ii]
- PornHub had 78.9 billion video views through 2014, considerably surpassing 2013 at 63.2 billion views.[iii]
- A 2013/14 survey in the UK revealed that the porn site Pornhub was one of the “Top 5” internet sites for 11-16 year-old boys.[iv]
- The Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls Report released in 2015 states “The growing ubiquity of mobile devices means those targeted or indirectly implicated are getting younger and younger — with children as young as 5 or 6 years of age now exposed to cyber bullying and online pornography — sometimes of the most extreme kind. In some contexts online culture represents the worst form of gang violence.” [v]
Evidence of child exposure to pornography
- A major study at the University of Sydney in 2012 showed that for men who were frequent users of pornography, 43% were first exposed to pornography between the ages of 11 and 13.[vi]
- A large-scale survey in the US revealed that amongst young adults age 25-30, 25% had first viewed pornography before puberty.[vii]
- The same survey revealed that half of 13-24 year-olds actively seek out online porn at least once a week.[vii]
- In a 2010 survey of English 14-16 year-olds, nearly one-third claimed that their first exposure to pornography was at 10 years or younger.[viii]
- A 2015 survey in the UK showed that 1 in 5 twelve to thirteen year-olds believed that watching porn is “normal behaviour”.[ix]
- Unwanted exposure to pornography among minors is increasing, with the number of 10-12 year-olds accidentally seeing porn rising from 9% to 19% between 2000 and 2005, and from 28% to 35% for 13-15 year-olds. . In another study of 16-17 year-olds, a large number of both males (84%) and females (60%) had experienced unwanted exposure to pornography whilst online.[x]
- The 2015 Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls Report indicates “The growing ubiquity of mobile devices means those targeted or indirectly implicated are getting younger and younger — with children as young as 5 or 6 years of age now exposed to cyber bullying and online pornography — sometimes of the most extreme kind. In some contexts online culture represents the worst form of gang violence.”[iv]
Evidence of harms from exposure
- A study of the most popular porn scenes showed that 88% contained physical aggression, 94% of it directed toward women; in 95% of cases the victim was shown to respond either neutrally or with pleasure. [xi]
- There is a consensus among research in the field that pornography is now “routine among children and young people, with a range of notable and often troubling effects”.[xii]
- The latest neuroscience research has demonstrated that pornography use has measurable negative impacts on the brain.[xiii]
- Research by numerous behavioural scientists shows that the consumption of pornography can lead to addiction, with similar neurological processes to those observed in substance addiction.[xiv]
- Studies have shown a correlation between early exposure to pornography and early sexual activity.[xv]
- Minors who have been exposed to pornography and sexualised media have less progressive gender attitudes.[xvi]
- Minors who have been exposed to pornography are more likely to view women as sex objects.[xvii]
- Minors who view pornography and other sexualised media are more accepting of sexual violence, and more likely to believe “rape myths” (that women enjoy being raped).[xviii]
- Adolescents who are exposed to pornography are more likely to engage in sexual violence.[xix]
- Pornography is used by adult sexual abusers to undermine children’s resistance to exploitation.[xx]
- A correlation has been shown between a child being exposed to pornography and their likelihood of being a victim of sexual violence.[xxi]
- An increased use of Internet pornography decreases boys’ academic performance 6 months later. [xxii]
What do young people say?
Based on a representative sample of 500 18 year olds:[xxiii]
- Eight out of 10 say it is too easy for young people to accidentally see pornography online.
- Seven out of 10 say ‘accessing pornography was seen as typical’ while they were at school; the consensus view is that this is typical between the ages of 13 and 15.
- 70% say ‘pornography leads to unrealistic attitudes to sex’ and that ‘pornography can have a damaging impact on young people’s views of sex or relationships’.
- Two-thirds of young women (66 %) and almost half of young men (49%) agree that ‘it would be easier growing up if pornography was less easy to access for young people’.
- Almost eight out of 10 young women (77%) say ‘pornography has led to pressure on girls or young women to look a certain way’.
- Almost as many young women (75%) say ‘pornography has led to pressure on girls and young women to act a certain way’.
[ix] Online porn: evidence of its impact on young people; Childwise/NSPCC survey; 6 April, 2015.
Mitchell, K. J., J. Wolak, and D. Finkelhor. (2007). Trends in youth reports of sexual solicitations, harassment and unwanted exposure to pornography on the internet. Journal of Adolescent Health, 40(2): 116-126.
[xi] Bridges, A. J., Wosnitzer, R., Scharrer, E., Chyng, S., and Liberman, R. (2010). Aggression and Sexual Behavior in Best Selling Pornography Videos: A Content Analysis Update. Violence Against Women 16, 10: 1065–1085.
[xii] Flood, M. (2009). The harms of pornography exposure among children and young people, Child Abuse Review Vo. 18:384-400
[xiii] Kuhn, S., Gallinat, J. (2014). Brain Structure and Connectivity Associated with Pornography Consumption, JAMA Psychiatry; 71(7): 827-834
[xiv] Hilton, D.L. (2013). Pornography addiction - a supranormal stimulus considered in the context of Neuroplasticity; Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology 2013, 3: 20767
Love, T; Laier, C; Brand, M; Hatch, L; Hajela, R. (2015). Neuroscience of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review and Update; Behavioral Sciences, 5(3):388-433
Phillips, B; Hajela, R; Hilton, D.L. (2015). Sex Addiction as a Disease: Evidence for Assessment, Diagnosis, and Response to Critics; Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention, 22:2, 167-192.
[xv] Carroll, J.S; Padilla-Walker, L.M; Nelson, L.J; Olsen, C.D; McNamara Barry, C; Madsen, S.D. (2008). Generation XXX: Pornography Acceptance and Use Among Emerging Adults; Journal of Adolescent Research; 23(1), 6-30; Sage Publications
Wingood, G.M; DiClemente, R.J; Harrington, K; Davies, S; Hook III, E.W; Kim Oh, M. (2001). Exposure to X-rated movies and adolescents’ sexual and contraceptive-related attitudes and behaviors. Pediatrics 107: 1116–1110.
[xvi] Brown, J. & L’Engle, K. (2009). X-Rated: Sexual attitudes and behaviors associated with U.S. early adolescents’ exposure to sexually explicit media. Communication Research, 36, 129-151.
[xvii] Peter, J. & Valkenburg, P. (2007). Adolescents’ exposure to a sexualized media environment and their notions of women as sex objects. Sex Roles, 56, 381–395.
Wright; P.J; Tokunaga, R.S. (2015). Activating the Centerfold Syndrome: Recency of Exposure, Sexual Explicitness, Past Exposure to Objectifying Media; Communication Research; Vol. 42(6) 864–897
[xviii] Owens, E.W; Behun, R.J; Manning, J.C; Reid, R.C. (2012). The Impact of Internet Pornography on Adolescents: A Review of the Research; Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 19:99–122
Ybarra, M.L; Mitchell, K.J; Hamburger, M; Diener-West, M; Leaf, P.J. (2011). X-Rated Material and Perpetration of Sexually Aggressive Behavior Among Children and Adolescents: Is There a Link? Aggressive Behavior; Volume 37: 1–18
[xix] Bonino S, Ciairano S, Rabaglietti E, Cattelino E. (2006). Use of pornography and self-reported engagement in sexual violence among adolescents. European Journal of Developmental Psychology 3: 265–288. DOI: 10.1080/17405620600562359.
[xx] Russell D, Purcell N. (2005). Exposure to pornography as a cause of child sexual victimization. In Handbook of Children, Culture, and Violence, Dowd N, Singer D, Wilson R (eds). Sage: Thousand Oaks, CA; 59–84.
[xxi] Bonino S, Ciairano S, Rabaglietti E, Cattelino E. (2006). Use of pornography and self-reported engagement in sexual violence among adolescents. European Journal of Developmental Psychology 3: 265–288. DOI: 10.1080/17405620600562359.
[xxii] Beyens, I; Vandenbosch, L; Eggermont, S. (2015). Early Adolescent Boys’ Exposure to Internet Pornography: Relationships to Pubertal Timing, Sensation Seeking, and Academic Performance; Journal of Early Adolescence, Vol. 35(8) 1045–1068