Older youth and boys more likely to seek pornography

The majority of youth that reported seeking out online pornography were teenage boys. One-quarter of boys ages 14-15 and almost four in 10 (38%) 16- and 17-year old boys had gone to pornographic websites on purpose in the past year.

Youth reporting intentional online pornography use in 2005

Age Boys Girls
10-11 1% 2%
12-13 11 3
14-15 26 5
16-17 38 8

Number of times spent viewing for more than 30 minutes

Boys Girls
Never 30.6% 76.8%
Once 6.9 9.1
Up to 10 times 27.8 11.4
More than 10 times 34.8 2.7

(numbers may not add up to 100% due to rounding)

Reasons given for intentionally viewing Internet pornography

Boys Girls
Wanted the sexual excitement 69.3% 16.8%
Curious about the things people do sexually 53.1 26.1
Wanted information about sex 39.7 19.5
With friends who wanted to do it 34.1 20.8

Both unintentional exposure and seeking online pornography seem to start very early in boys. An estimated one in six (17%) of 10- to 11-year olds report unwanted exposure, but within a few years, a high percentage of boys are seeking pornography. By young adulthood (18-26), 86 percent report having used pornography in the past year. Researchers say that while interest in sex is developmentally appropriate in the teen years, the pornographic content to which teen boys are exposed can warp healthy sexual development.

Adolescent girls do not show much interest in online pornography, but millions of them are unintentionally exposed to it. The Crimes Against Children Research Center found that 14- to 17-year old boys are five times more likely to seek online pornography than girls their age.

Parents should note that a significant percentage of exposures came when a child was with others. Parents should consider coaching children on what to do if confronted by a situation where others want to look at pornography. Children may stay and watch because they don’t know what to do and are unprepared for the peer pressure.
Janis Wolak, Kimberly Mitchell, David Finkelhor, “Unwanted and Wanted Exposure to Online Pornography in a National Sample of Youth Internet Users,” PEDIATRICS, Volume 119, Number 2, February 2007, p. 251, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/119/2/247. (accessed June 2, 2010).

Copyright © 2013, Daniel Weiss. All rights reserved. Used with permission.