Edmonton

One in three Alberta teen boys watch porn online: study

More than a third of Alberta 13-year-olds say they have watched pornography on the internet "too many times to count," according to a new University of Alberta study.

More than a third of Alberta 13-year-old boyssay they have watched pornography on the internet "too many times to count," according to a new University of Alberta study.

Researcher Sonya Thompsontold CBC NewsThursdaythatshe's worried kids are taking their cue on sexuality from pornographic images on the internet, videos and DVDs.

"From a sexual health point of view, you see a lot of risky sex practices in terms of transmission of sexually transmitted infections. You never, or rarely, see condoms used. There's no negotiation. People always want to have sex and they're paid performers."

Thompson analyzed responses to an hour-long questionnaire from 429 rural and urban Grade 8 students with a median age of 13.5. She asked about their exposure to and use of sexually explicit material on TV, DVDs, movies and the internet, as well as about their interaction with their parents about such material.

The internet was the most common way for kids to get access to porn, with about three-quarters of students reporting such contact.

Boys were more interested than girls. Thompson found almost one-quarter of the boys watched pornographic DVDs or videos "too many times to count" and 35 per cent said the same about internet pornography. The corresponding figures for girls were four per cent and eight per cent.

Only 13 per cent of the students said their homes used blocking technology on computers and TVs.

The survey is considered accurate to within one percentage point, 19 times out of 20.

Talk to teens about it, researcher recommends

Technical fixes such as blocking technology, which prevents sexually explicit TV shows or web pages from appearing on the screen, don't give kids the skills they need to negotiate a highly sexualized media environment, said Cathy Wing, acting director of the Media Awareness Network, a non-profit group that promotes media literacy.

"They don't teach kids the critical thinking skills they have to learn," she said.

Her group found that in homes without rules about what wasn't allowed, three times as many Grade 6 and 7 students visited offensive sites.

But settingrules and supervising whatchildren do online isn'tfoolproof because teens can always access porn elsewhere, such as at a friend's house, Thompson said.

She recommends that parents talk about the issue with their kids, no matter how awkward it may be.

Corrections

  • A University of Alberta study found more than one in three 13-year-old boys watched porn online "too many times to count," not more than one in three teens, as originally written.
    Feb 27, 2007 9:40 AM MT

With files from the Canadian Press

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