Edith Cowan University to investigate effects of porn on teenagers

Stock image.
Stock image.

A NEW study by Edith Cowan University will examine the impact online pornography has on teenagers as part of an effort to provide strategies to reduce harm.

The study, led by Professor Lelia Green from ECU’s School of Arts and Humanities, has attracted a $375,000 grant from the Australian Research Council.

Professor Green’s previous research on the topic showed most Australian teens had accessed online sexual content by the age of 16 and 36 per cent of those had felt bothered by it.

The new study will explore Australian adolescents’ responses to online sexual content through comparative research with teens and local investigators in Greece, Ireland and Norway.

“Because this type of study hasn’t been done before, there’s a lot of basic information that we don’t know,” Professor Green said.

“This is an opportunity to start informing debate with the voices of young people themselves.

“Until we start talking to teens, we don’t know what they have found unsettling and what they haven’t, or how they would have liked things done differently and how they would like to be supported.

“What we do know though is that what parents think unsettles teens is often not what unsettles them and what does unsettle teens is often minimised by parents.”

One of the themes that will be explored in the study is whether teens access sexual content online intentionally or accidentally and what harm is caused by both.

“Our operating hypothesis is that young people who are in charge of their own progress to adult content find what they come across easier to deal with,” Professor Green said.

“However, if you’re shown content when you don’t want to see it, that can be like an assault.

“We are only really ready for these kinds of information and images when we want to see them, and even then we sometimes don’t want to see what we come across when we click that link.”