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Youth Encounters with Internet Pornography

Full Article Title: Youth Encounters with Internet Pornography: A Survey of Youth, Caregiver, and Educator Perspectives

Open Access: Yes


Despite international inquiry regarding young people’s encounters with Internet pornography (IP), there is a lack of knowledge about how their caregivers (parents or guardians) and educators perceive these encounters in comparison to young people. Such knowledge is critical to understanding the synergies and discrepancies that might exist between these key stakeholder groups (youth, caregivers and educators) and across genders, to subsequently inform how to best support youth in navigating IP. To this end, the present study describes youth (16–18-year olds) encounters with IP, as well as caregiver and educator perceptions of these encounters. An online survey was completed by 256 youth and 217 caregivers and educators recruited from nine schools with an existing investment in sexuality education in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Similar to global trends, this group of young New Zealanders were familiar with IP and patterns of encounters were gendered. However, there were varied understandings between stakeholder groups and across genders as to why and how these encounters occur. Understanding the ways youth encounter IP—and exploring how caregivers and educators perceive these encounters—serves as a springboard for future research that considers the broader socio-cultural context within which these perspectives are constructed.


In this study of high school students in New Zealand, the average age of first encounter with internet pornography was 11 years old. Gender diverse youth reported a younger age of first exposure, partly to explore their identity and sexuality since there they typically have access to less resources. More than half of these first-time exposures were unintentional. Many young people look to internet pornography to lean about sexuality. Many, too, especially girls, reported that “they did not receive any education” about pornography. Last, there are significant gaps between how youth, caregivers, and educators understand the pornography habits of young people.



Healy-Cullen, S., Taylor, J. E., Ross, K., & Morison, T. (2022). Youth Encounters with Internet Pornography: A Survey of Youth, Caregiver, and Educator Perspectives. Sexuality & Culture, 26, 491–513.


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