Quarter of 12-year-olds admit watching porn

Published 10 April 2014  |  
(AP)

A new survey reveals that a quarter of young people have watched internet pornography by the age of just 12.

A thousand people aged between 16 and 21 were asked to share their personal experiences of porn, and the results show that over 20 per cent first searched online for explicit content on purpose, while 37.6 per cent came across it by accident, and one in four were shown it by someone else.

Shockingly, 7 per cent were under the age of 10 when they were first exposed to pornography online.

The survey was commissioned for a documentary entitled 'Porn - what's the harm?' which will air on BBC3 tonight. It explores the effect that increased access to pornography is having on young people across the UK, and the way that they view sex and one another.

The study also investigated issues such as unrealistic expectations, objectification and body image, and found that there is an evident "gender difference" between the way that young people experience pornography – one young woman who took part in the survey suggested that "women [look at porn] for education, men for arousal".

Ready access to porn has become an increasing concern in the UK in recent years, as the anonymity of the internet has made it easier than ever to find explicit content.

With the news that lads' mag Nuts may soon be closing due to a steady drop in sales, some feminists rejoiced while others noted that it merely indicates that society no longer has to pop to the corner shop to find porn as even more graphic content is widely available at the touch of a button, and often for free. "Hardly a victory really, is it ladies?" wrote Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett for The Guardian.

In response to an article on Christian Today that asked whether Nuts' demise signifies that lads' mags have lost, Martin Daubney – a former editor of Loaded magazine who walked away from the job after becoming a father – tweeted: "No, free porn 'won'."

Of his time at Loaded, which at its peak had a monthly circulation of over 450,000, Daubney has previously said: "We were normalising soft porn, and in so doing we must have made it more acceptable for young men to dive into the murky waters of harder stuff on the internet. And, for that, I have a haunting sense of regret.

"I was confronted by the painful thought that maybe Loaded was part of the problem. Was it an 'enabler' to young teenage boys who'd consume harder porn later, in the same way dabbling with cannabis might lead to stronger addictions to cocaine or heroin?"

Extensive neurological research indicates that those who watch porn regularly experience the same addictive behaviours and brain activity as those addicted to hard drugs or alcohol. Daubney investigated these claims for a Channel 4 documentary, 'Porn on the brain', and found that many young people are suffering as a result of compulsive behaviours linked to porn.

The programme also explored the relationship between pornography and sexual violence, and although psychotherapist Dr John Woods of the Portman Clinic admitted that it is difficult to prove, he also stated that "clinically it's clear that there is a connection".

With recent studies showing that more British teens watch porn each month than attend church, and as US Megapastor Bob Coy faces allegations of a pornography addiction, it is clear that the phenomena must not be ignored or swept under the carpet. It is a real issue, and one that Christians must grapple with openly, and without embarrassment. As the conversation is reopened on BBC3 tonight, Christians will be among those taking note.

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