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Access to Pornography Among Teenagers on the Rise

Boys aged 13 and 14 living in rural areas, are the most likely of their age group to access pornography, and parents// need to be more aware of how to monitor their children’s viewing habits, according to a new University of Alberta study.

A total of 429 students aged 13 and 14 from 17 urban and rural schools across Alberta, Canada, were surveyed anonymously about if, how and how often they accessed sexually explicit media content on digital or satellite television, video and DVD and the Internet. Ninety per cent of males and 70 per cent 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 per cent of the girls surveyed.

A majority of the students, 74 per cent, reported viewing pornography on the Internet. Forty-one per cent saw it on video or DVD and 57 per cent reported seeing it on a specialty TV channel. Nine per cent of the tens reported they accessed pornography because someone over 18 had rented it; six per cent had rented it themselves and 20 per cent viewed it at a friend’s house.

The study also revealed different patterns of use between males and females, with boys doing the majority of deliberate viewing, and a significant minority planning social time around viewing porn with male friends. Girls reported more accidental or unwanted exposure online and tend to view porn in same-gender pairs or with mixed groups.

Though being curious about sexually explicit media may seem a ‘natural’ part of early adolescence, porn is a major presence in the lives of youth. The media environment in Alberta homes makes access to porn easy for teens and viewing pornography at a young age can set children up for problems later on, said Sonya Thompson, a masters graduate student at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and author of the study. “We don’t know how we are changing
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