OTTAWA, May 30, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A survey of Canadian youth found that children are accessing porn online, and sending and receiving and forwarding sexual text images more frequently.
“In 2013, the story is not only that more young people are actively seeking out pornography online (overall rates have increased by 7 percent) but also the frequency at which it is done by boys who report they look for pornography,” the report says.
Although the survey found that a significant majority of students in grades 7-11 (77 percent) reported that they have never looked for pornography online, boys were much more likely to have done so – 40 percent compared to seven percent of girls.
Moreover, the survey found that boys who seek out pornography are more likely than girls to do so frequently.
Eighty-eight percent of boys who reported that they look for pornography online said they do so at least once a month or more.
Of those grade 7 to 11 boys who said they look for porn, 14 percent said they do it at least once a day. Another 14 percent said they do it once a week, 7 percent once a month, and 2 percent once a year. Three percent said they look for online porn less than once a year.
This compares to about only one percent of girls across all frequency categories who said they look for porn.
“This suggests that not only are boys more likely to look for online pornography, but those boys who do, consume quite a lot of it. Girls who seek out pornography, on the other hand, are roughly equally likely to do so once a year or less as they are to do so more often,” the authors of the report stated.
In answering the question about looking for online porn, 60 percent of the boys and 93 percent of the girls said that they have never done so.
“Household rules have an impact on whether or not students visit pornographic sites,” the researchers said.
“Students who report that there is a rule at home about sites they are not supposed to visit are more likely to say that they have never looked for pornography online. They are also less likely to seek it out daily, weekly or monthly. However, as noted in our report Life Online, boys – who are most likely to seek out pornography – are less likely than girls to have a rule in the home on this topic.”
To explore student behaviors around sexting, the survey asked a series of questions about sending or receiving sexy, nude or partially nude photos. These questions were again limited to students in grades 7-11, and who had access to either their own cell phone or to a shared cell phone.
The survey found that 60 to 87 percent of students in grades 7-11 have access to a cell phone. Eight percent of those students said they had sent a sext of themselves, while about one quarter said they had received a sext. Boys were twice as likely to be sent a sext as girls, and the frequency of sexting rose dramatically as children progressed from grade 7 to grade 11.
The survey report noted that the aspect of sexting that is likely to cause the most concern is forwarding the pictures to others who were not intended to receive it.
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“The risks caused by sexts that are forwarded to or shared with other recipients are obvious. Just under one quarter of the students who have sent a sext of themselves report that the person who received the sext forwarded it to someone else,” the report stated.
The researchers found that despite the positive correlation overall between household rules and looking online for porn, “having a household rule about treating people online with respect does not correlate with a lower likelihood of forwarding sexts.”
The “Sexuality and Romantic Relationships in the Digital Age” report was conducted by Media Smarts, an organization that deals with digital and media literacy and drawn from a national survey of Canadian youth conducted in 2013.
The classroom-based survey of 5,436 students in grades 4 through 11, in every province and territory, examined the role of networked technologies on issues such as sexting, romantic interactions online, and accessing pornography and information about sexuality on the internet.
The report says that questions about sexuality were limited to older students in grades 7 through 11.
The full text of the Media Smarts survey titled “Sexuality and Romantic Relationships in the Digital Age” is available here.