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    Internet Porn Reaches Most Teens

    Youths' Porn Exposure Mostly Unwanted; Blocking Not 100% Effective
    By
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    Feb. 5, 2007 -- Internet pornography reaches most teens and many preteens -- and most of these porn exposures are unwanted, a telephone survey finds.

    The survey comes from Janis Wolak, JD, and colleagues at the University of New Hampshire's Crimes against Children Research Center. Wolak's team asked a national sample of parents for permission to interview their 10- to 17-year-old children about exposure to Internet pornography.

    Just under half the parents agreed to allow the children to speak privately with the researchers by telephone.

    Between March and June 2005, 1,422 children gave adequate responses for analysis.

    The main findings:

    • 42% of youths age 10-17 had seen Internet porn in the past year.
    • Two-thirds of youth exposures to Internet porn were unwanted. (However, not all unwanted exposure to porn was unintentional: 21% of the time, kids knew they were entering X-rated web sites.)
    • Boys were exposed to Internet porn far more often than were girls.
    • Boys are nine times more likely than girls to seek out Internet porn.
    • Teens, especially those age 16-17, are far more likely than younger kids to view online porn, either accidentally or on purpose. For example, more than two-thirds of boys 16-17 had been exposed to online porn.
    • Youth exposure to Internet porn is fairly common. Unwanted porn found its way to 17% of 10- to 11-year-old boys, 16% of girls 10 to 11 years old.
    • Most youth said they were not upset by the images they saw.
    • Some youths -- those who report victimization by others when not on the Internet, and those with borderline or significant depression -- may be especially vulnerable to the negative effects of Internet pornography.

    Filtering and blocking programs reduce Internet porn exposure, but do not eliminate it.

    Use of file-sharing programs increased the odds of both wanted and unwanted porn exposure. Meanwhile, law-enforcement presentations about how to avoid Internet porn cut the odds of unwanted porn exposure.

    The findings appear in the February issue of Pediatrics.

    Teen Internet Porn Exposure the Norm

    Parents and people who work with youths "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," Wolak and colleagues conclude.

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