"I wasn’t sure it was normal to watch it" The impact of online pornography on the values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of children
The online world has created incredible opportunities for young people to explore, experiment, socialise, create and educate themselves in ways which were previously undreamt of. But it has also exposed children to the risk of harm, including seeing extreme pornography and sexting.
The research consisted of an online survey of 1001 children and young people aged 11-16 across the UK, an online discussion forum and online focus groups.
Authors: Elena Martellozzo, Andy Monaghan, Joanna R Adler, Julia Davidson, Rodolfo Leyva and Miranda AH Horvath
- Almost half of 11-16 year olds surveyed (47%) had never seen any pornography online.
- At 11, the majority of children (72%) had not seen online pornography.
- By 15, children were more likely (65%) than not to have seen online pornography.
Of those who had seen pornography online
- More boys (59%) view online pornography, through choice, than girls (25%).
- Children were as likely to stumble across pornography (28%) as to search for it deliberately (19%).
- Substantial minorities of older children (42% of 12-16 year olds) wanted to try things out they had seen in pornography.
- A greater proportion of boys (44%) wanted to emulate pornography than the proportion of girls (29%).
Sending and receiving pornographic material
- Pornographic material had been received by a quarter (26%) of young people.
- A minority of young people (4%) had generated naked or semi-naked images of themselves; some of them had shared the images further.
- Repeated viewing of online pornography may have a desensitising effect with young people feeling less negative over time and generally less anxious or disgusted by what they are seeing.
Young people’s perceptions of pornography
- Most young people (49%) saw pornography as unrealistic however a minority rated it positively.
- Young people who rated pornography positively were more likely to be: boys; younger respondents; or those whose families and/or schools had not engaged with them about online pornography.
- Most young people thought pornography was a poor model for consent or safe sex and wanted better sex education, covering the impact of pornography.
- Young people wanted to be able to find out about sex and relationships and about pornography in ways that were safe, private and credible.
- Young people highlighted the need for materials that are age and gender appropriate. Some also touched on lack of teacher awareness of the potential additional vulnerabilities faced by young people who do not identify as either male or female in a binary manner.
|Foreword from the research commissioners||1|
|Tabel of contents||4|
|List of figures||5|
|List of tables||6|
|Objectives and methods||16|
|Affective and cognitive responses to online pornography: Young peoples feelings and attitudes||32|
|Young people as critical consumers||53|
Please cite as: Martellozzo, E., Monaghan, A., Adler, J.R., Davidson, J., Leyva, R. and Horvath, M.A.H. (2016) I wasn’t sure it was normal to watch it. London: NSPCC
Sex and relationships books
Browse a list of books for children and young people on our library catalogue about sex and relationships.
Resources for parents and teachers
Find guides, articles and resources about talking to children about sex and relationships.
Research and publications
Experiences of 11-16 year olds on social networking sites
Boys and girls speak out: a qualitative study of children’s gender and sexual cultures
Younger children and social networking sites: a blind spot
Sexting: an exploration of practices, attitudes and influences
Qualitative study of children, young people and 'sexting'
Talking about difficult topics
Keeping children safe
Our Current Awareness Service for Practice, Policy And Research delivers free weekly email alerts to keep you up-to-date with all the latest safeguarding and child protection news.
CASPAR is currently being upgraded but you can still sign up by contacting our Information Service.
Your donation can take a child anywhere
Research like this helps keep children safe from abuse and free to dream – but we can’t do it without our generous supporters.
Follow us on Twitter and keep up-to-date with all the latest news in child protection.
We hold the UK's largest collection of child protection resources and the only UK database specialising in published material on child protection, child abuse and child neglect.
New in the Library
A free weekly email listing all of the new child protection publications added to our library collection.
New in the Library is currently being upgraded but you can still sign up by contacting our Information Service.
Helping you keep children safe
Read our guide for professionals on what we do and the ways we can work with you to protect children and prevent abuse and neglect.
Impact and evidence hub
Find out how we evaluate and research the impact we’re making in protecting children, get tips and tools for researchers and access resources.
Get expert training and consultancy
Sharing knowledge to keep children safe
Read our guide to NSPCC Knowledge and Information Services to find out how we can help you with child protection queries, support your research, and help you learn and develop.