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Introduction

In 2016 the Australian Institute of Family Studies reviewed contemporary literature relating to young people’s experience of online pornography (AIFS, 2016).  The review found increasing exposure and associated harmful impacts on young people over the past three decades due to a proliferation of violent pornographic material available online, and enhanced opportunity for effortless access through increased internet speeds and the availability of hand held devices.  This increased ease of access to online pornography has also contributed to the likelihood of children’s accidental exposure.

While research in this area is difficult due to ethical considerations related to conducting research into pornography with child subjects, available evidence suggests that exposure to online pornography by children and young people increases harmful gender stereotypes; unhealthy and sexist views of women and sex; higher rates of acceptance of violence against women; sexually coercive behaviour by young men; and contributes to unrealistic understandings of sex and sexuality.

In February 2018, Relationships Australia sought to increase its understanding of the impacts of exposure to online pornography for young people aged 11 to 16 years through its monthly online survey.  The survey asked visitors to our website to report on their understanding of young people’s exposure to pornography, potential harm and where they would go for assistance if they had concerns about a young person.

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