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Delaying boys’ exposure to porn is worth it, study says

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Naysayers claim you can’t keep porn away from your kids forever. They are probably right. However, a new study suggests preventing your child’s first exposure to pornography as long as possible matters in later life.

 

The study, conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Nebraska, surveyed 330 men between the ages of 17 years and and 54 years old. The men reported the age at which they first saw pornography and the context of the exposure; that is, whether the man (or boy) in question was looking for porn, stumbled on it accidentally, or was forced to view it. The participants were also surveyed about their attitudes towards women and sexuality.

 

On average, first exposure to pornography occurred around age thirteen years old, though participants reported initial exposure as young as five years old and as old as twenty-six years old. Almost half encountered pornography accidentally (43.5%), about a third (33.4%) went looking for it, and a few were forced to view pornography (17.2%). While the context didn’t matter later in life, age did. The younger a boy (or man) was when he first viewed pornography, the more likely he was to want and believe men should have power over women. According to the report on the study published in the BBC, these men were more likely to “agree with statements that asserted male dominance, such as ‘things tend to be better when men are in charge’.”

 

Hierarchical attitudes about gender are highly problematic, especially because they correlate with domestic violence, rape, and other types of violence against women. Pornography often depicts male dominance and even male on female violence as part of normal romantic relationships. This could not be farther from the truth!

 

As parents, we may not be able to shield our kids as adults, but the protection we provide them as children makes a difference. Of course, there is never a good time to be exposed to pornography. However, if we shield and teach our children when they are young, they will be better equipped to process exposure later in life. Just because we can’t protect them forever does not mean we should not try to protect them at all!

 

The other takeaway from this study? If you want to prevent your child’s first exposure to pornography for as long as possible, it is NEVER too early to institute protective measures. The participants in this study reported exposure to pornography as early as five years old. Pre-empting an exposure at five years old requires parents to act when their kids are preschoolers or toddlers. Create a family media plan that begins with your child’s first moment of screen time. Make internet safety a way of life for your kids. As we learned from this study, your efforts make a difference!

 

You can read more about this study here, here, and here.

 

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07 Aug, 17

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