Gender and Childhood Pornography Exposure: New Research Reveals Surprises!

by Sep 29, 20160 comments

Pornography Exposure Research

Are boys and girls impacted by pornography in the same way? This is a question everyone wants answered.

But studying childhood pornography exposure is challenging for several reasons:

  • Researchers do not ever want to cause harm to those being studied and children are considered a vulnerable population. Researchers don’t want to create trauma for kids by bringing up painful memories without proper psychological support.
  • Asking a child’s parents whether or not a child has been exposed to pornography will not produce accurate data because many parents are not aware when children are exposed.
  • It’s difficult gaining legal access to children.

Yet childhood pornography exposure is too important of a topic to be ignored.

As a Behavioral Science student at Utah Valley University, I led a team that completed an exploratory internet-based survey in December 2015. In order to find data on childhood, we asked adults who had been exposed to pornography as kids to answer questions.

Who participated?

  • 238 women and 132 men responded to our survey.
  • The participants were from 17 countries and 41 states.
  • The average age was 35.7 years.
  • 90% of respondents were Christian.

What answers were we seeking?

We wanted to explore gender differences in the following questions:

  • How are children are exposed to pornography?
  • What emotions did they feel during initial exposure?
  • How long did they wait to disclose exposure?

Our team also wanted to figure out how often other children are part of the initial exposure. Some of the results surprised us.

"Have you wanted to talk to your kids about pornography, but didn't know what to say?! I've felt that way for quite some time and finally found a solution - Good Pictures Bad Pictures. . . I highly recommend this book to all people with children. A must have for all parents!" - Amazon Review. CLICK HERE to learn more about Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today's Young Kids.

Research results

Average age of exposure

The average age of exposure for this study was at 9.66 years old for girls, and at 9.95 years old for boys.

The circumstances of initial exposure

Very few children intentionally sought out pornographic materials: girls: 7% | boys: 10%
One or more additional children were involved: girls: 48% | boys: 49%

Accidental Pornography Exposure

In other words, most initial exposure was accidental for both boys and girls. Furthermore, nearly half of the kids in our study were around at least one other child during their initial exposure to pornography. Children are showing other kids pornography and/or they are watching this happen.

Our team calls this phenomenon the clubhouse effect. When children discover pornography, they often show their peers. While they may be afraid to tell adults what they have seen, kids confide in their friends.

Childhood pornography exposure breeds further childhood pornography exposure. There is an urgent need to teach kids not to show what they find to their friends or siblings. Kids need to know that no one should show them pornography and that they should never show it to other children.

How long did it take for children to disclose exposure?

Only a small portion of children disclosed on the same day the initial exposure occurred: girls: 9% | boys: 7%

If children did not disclose on the same day, chances of talking to anyone before adulthood went down substantially. Girls were almost twice as likely to have never disclosed (27%).

Overall, 31% of our participants report they have never told anyone about their childhood exposure.

Latency and Disclosure

Gender similarities and differences in feelings

Girls reported feeling higher levels of many negative emotions measured, including discomfort, embarrassment, or confusion. Girls were also more likely to feel a sense of it was weird.

Childhood Pornography Exposure Study

Boys reported higher levels of curiosity, the feeling of being pulled, or feeling a need to find more materials.

Childhood Pornography Exposure Research

Other significant findings

  • Boys were much more likely to experience sexual arousal (almost 80%) than girls (45%).
  • There was no significant difference in shame for arousal between boys and girls. (Around 50% for both.)
  • Boys were almost three times more likely to have felt excited by what they saw.
  • 32% of study participants reported seeking out 6 or more forms of pornographic materials since initial exposure.
  • Nearly 80% of children went back for more pornography. Boys most often went back within 6 months. Girls, for the most part, did not go back until 3 years later, right around puberty.

Looking back in time

A challenge to our research was best described by Kristen A. Jenson, author of Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids. She said, “It’s like we are looking at light from stars light years away. It’s old data. We need to know what is happening now.”

She’s right. The pornography exposure events we studied happened an average of 25 years ago. We really need to know what is happening with kids today. Nearly all of our participants were children before Wi-Fi and handheld devices were part of everyday life. If the average age of exposure was under ten 25 years ago, what would it be today?

We still have much to study and much to learn.

The future

I have been asked what is next for our team. More research needs to be conducted to further understand some of our findings. We are interested exploring how exposure may affect childhood, future romantic relationships, self-concept, perfectionist tendencies, sexuality, and life in general.

We want to understand the differences in how long-term usage may affect boys and girls distinctly, if those differences exist. If they do, treatment for those who consider themselves addicted or otherwise harmed by pornography usage may need to be handled based on gender.

Our team plans to address some of these questions, and we hope more organizations will pick up the reigns as well. Whatever the effect, pornography is too much a part of our world to not be taken seriously. It is time to combine efforts and get some real answers for our sons and daughters.

 

Lacy Bentley
Lacy is a Behavioral Science student at Utah Valley University, majoring in Psychology. She currently travels, speaking on overcoming perfectionism and the effects of self-destructive behaviors in women and girls. Lacy has recently started a nonprofit, Women’s United Recovery Coalition (WURC) to bring awareness of women’s pornography addiction.

5 Easy Tricks to Manage Screen Time and Get a Happier Family, Too

A lot of parents worry about the amount of time their child spends using screens. In fact, a recent survey of 3,000 Americans reported that the number one concern of parents of teens is overuse of technology. Wendy Christensen, a mom of six kids, told the Deseret...

Your Daughter’s Body Image – Healthy or Shameful? 4 Ways to Counteract Toxic Media

Both of my daughters dance. They have an incredible ability (that I don’t share!) to communicate their emotions and ideas through the power of movement. They practice hours on end at home and the studio to push their bodies to new levels. They celebrate their growth...

Parent Alert! Is “After” the New “50 Shades of Grey” for Kids? (Watch out – It’s Coming to the Big Screen!)

Our regular Parent Alert! news updates help parents stay ahead of the trends affecting kids in our hypersexualized culture. This month we’re covering headlines from around the world: a twisted erotic fiction series popular with teens is coming to a theatre near you; a...

Parent Alert! The Dark Web Endangers Curious Kids

Our monthly Parent Alert! news updates inform parents so they can stay ahead of the latest trends. Here’s What’s Trending in January 2019 Teach kids to stay far away from the Dark Web Have you ever heard your older kids or teens talking about Tor? If so, you will want...

How Porn Hijacks Young Brains and 3 Effective Ways to Defend Your Kids (Part 1)

This is part 1 of a four-part series by Sam Black from Covenant Eyes. Sam teaches parents all over the country how to prepare their children to be safe online. He also serves on the Protect Young Minds advisory council. Don’t miss part 2, part 3 and part 4 of this...

Get the Book

Good Pictures Bad Pictures cover

#1 Amazon Best Seller

A read-aloud book that’s comfortable for parents and empowering for kids

Get the Book

#1 Amazon Best Seller

A read-aloud book that’s comfortable for parents and empowering for kids

Get the 5-step proven plan that any kid can use to reject pornography.

Click on image to subscribe to blog.

The CAN DO Poster comes straight from our #1 Amazon best-selling book Good Pictures Bad Pictures. It's yours free when you subscribe to our blog.

Get Started →

About Us

Led by Kristen A. Jenson, author of the best-selling children’s book Good Pictures Bad Pictures, Protect Young Minds™ (PYM) seeks to help parents “porn-proof” their kids before they come across highly addictive and easily accessible internet pornography.

Learn More →

Grab your FREE guide!

Enter your FIRST NAME and best EMAIL below and hit Let's Go! We'll send your guide immediately!

Your FREE Guide Is On The Way!

Grab Your FREE Quick Start Guide!

Enter your FIRST NAME and best EMAIL below and hit Let's Go! We'll send your guide immediately!

Your FREE Quick Start Guide Is On The Way!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This