Reuters – eWEEK
Mon Feb 5, 3:57 AM ET
CHICAGO (Reuters) – About four in every 10 U.S. youngsters age 10 to 17
report they’ve seen pornography while on the Internet, two-thirds of
them saying it was uninvited, according to a study published on Monday.
of the encounters with online pornography, both sought-out and
accidental, were related to use of file-sharing programs to download
images, the report from the University of New Hampshire in Durham said.
“Although there is evidence that most youth are not particularly
upset when they encounter unwanted pornography on the Internet (it)
could have a greater impact on some youth than voluntary encounters
with pornography,” the study said.
“Some youth may be psychologically and developmentally unprepared
for unwanted exposure, and online images may be more graphic and
extreme than pornography available from other sources,” it added.
The report, published in the February issue of Pediatrics, the
journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, was based on a telephone
survey made of a representative sample of 1,500 U.S. youngsters from
March to June, 2005.
In all 42 percent reported having been exposed to online pornography
in the 12 months before they were questioned. Of that group 66 percent
said they were not trying to find the material when they encountered
it, which happened sometimes because of misspelled Web addresses,
pop-up advertisements or spam e-mails.
The remaining third who said they sought out pornography were more
likely to be teen-aged boys who also used file-sharing programs to
download images, talked online to strangers about sex, used the
Internet at friends’ homes, or possibly suffered from depression.
The researchers said sexual curiosity is normal in the teen years
“and many might say that visiting X-rated Web sites is developmentally
appropriate behavior.” But they said some experts are worried that it
could undermine social values or attitudes about sexual behavior, lead
to promiscuity or compulsive and deviant behavior.
Doctors, teachers, parents and others “should assume that most boys
of high school age who use the Internet have some degree of exposure to
online pornography as do many girls,” the study concluded.