Adolescents regret having watched porn

May 7, 2014 - 06:08

Six out of ten adolescents aged 13 to 16 have viewed porn or sex on the web. Many of the youngest ones wish they hadn’t. More girls than boys found it repulsive.

Finding it “yucky”. (Illustration photo: Colourbox)

The Norwegian Media Authority’s latest study of children and the media shows that 60 percent of kids aged 13 to 16 have looked at websites containing porn or graphic sex.

The use of pornography has remained stable the last couple of years. In a comparable study in 2012, 59 percent in this age group confirmed having seen web porn.

12 percent watch it often

The way a question is phrased impacts the result. Whereas 60 percent of these kids in the 13-16 age group answered “yes” when asked whether they had ever looked at a porn/sex site, the number dropped to 34 percent when they were asked whether they used such net services.  Just 12 percent said they used these sites often.

A total of 1,950 children have participated in the study “Barn og medier 2014” [Children and Media 2014] from the Norwegian Media Authority. These kids were aged 9 to 16 and answered a questionnaire about their media habits and experiences with digital media.

Children age 9 to 12 were not asked any questions about porn or sex pages in this survey.

Some younger kids find it repulsive

Teenagers were also asked their opinion of the sex sites. Some 12 percent found the experience repulsive. Only two percent claimed to be disturbed by the experience but nine percent said they wish they hadn’t seen the porn. More girls than boys regretted viewing it.

The 12-14-year-olds were more prone to experiencing it as negative than were the older teens.

More girls than boys reacted negatively to what they saw. Some 33 percent of the girls said they found the pages repulsive, but only six percent of the boys gave that answer.

Three in ten liked it

Most of the teenagers were either pleased or indifferent regarding what they saw, especially those aged 15 and 16.

All in all, 29 percent of these adolescents liked what they saw. Some 37 percent of the boys took a positive view, but only 14 percent of the girls. 

One out of five thought looking at porn was exciting. Here too, boys were more prone toward such enthusiasm. One out of four boys and girls were indifferent to having seen porn in the 2014 study, or answered that they didn’t know how they felt.

Boys are most eager

The figures revealed that many more boys than girls watch pornography. While 76 percent of the boys answered that they had surfed onto porn pages, only 43 percent of the girls had done it.

Boys are more positive about using such pages.

13-year-olds and crushes

Professor Bente Træen of the University of Oslo considers is not the least surprised that the youngest teenagers found porn pages rather revolting and regretted seeing them. 

Professor Bente Træen. (Photo: Lasse Moer/UiO)

“Adolescents aged 13 are in a different stage of development. They are in a romantic phase full of emotions and crushes. Sex doesn’t play much into this. They regard even normal sex as rather mystifying and repulsive,” she says.

Can it be harmful for youngsters to see porn too early?

“I doubt it. Children are robust. As long as this is not connected to their being molested, they overcome having seen porn that they regret seeing,” she says.

Blame it on the boogie

Little research has been conducted on teens and porn because researchers are not allowed to ask much along these lines within the age group. Researchers need to have parental permission to pose such touchy questions, and that makes it difficult in a number of ways.

“But American studies of White teenagers who have seen a lot of sexualised music videos have earlier sexual debuts than others,” says Træen.

Teens age 16 and 17 are curious about sex and will want to investigate how others practice it. It’s perfectly natural for such young people to use the internet to seek information about how to have sex.

The positive side

Research indicates that young people do not experience their own use of porn as negative. On the basis of studies there is no reason to say that young people actively surf onto porn sites that show unusual forms of sex.

Young adults aged 18 to 24 consider their own use of porn as rather positive, according to a study by Træen.

“Young people generally view normal sex and most use it to get aroused and please themselves. More girls than boys use it together with their partner.”

What advice do you have to parents who wish to be prepared for what their kids can find on porn and sex pages?

“Approach the children with acceptance and tell them that sexuality is diverse. If you get the child talking about it, ask what they have seen and what they thought. Sound advice here is to tell the child that they shouldn’t click onto things they think are disgusting.”

Træen also says that if children are curious, parents should encourage them to learn about sexual matters on informational and educational websites, and mentioned one example in Norwegian: suss.no.

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Read the Norwegian version of this article at forskning.no

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Translated by
Glenn Ostling

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