Does pornography harm young people?

McKee, Alan (2010) Does pornography harm young people? Australian Journal of Communication, 37(1), pp. 17-36.

View at publisher


In recent debates about the regulation of technologies that deliver pornographic content, the greatest concerns have been about the increasing ease with which young people can access such material. Because of the ethical difficulties in researching this topic, little data has been available on the potential harm done to young people by exposure to pornography. This paper gathers a number of data sources that address this issue indirectly—including the results of our own survey of over 1000 consumers of pornography—to explore this issue. Research shows that healthy sexual development includes natural curiosity about sexuality. Retrospective studies show that accidental exposure to real-life scenes of sexuality does not harm children. Our survey shows that age of first exposure to pornography does not correlate with negative attitudes towards women. Studies with non-explicit representations of sexuality show that young people who seek out sexualised representations tend to be those with a pre-existing interest in sexuality. These studies also suggest that current generations of children are no more sexualised than previous generations, that they are not innocent about sexuality, and that a key negative effect of this knowledge is the requirement for them to feign ignorance in order to satisfy adults’ expectations of them. Research also suggests important differences between pre- and post-pubescent attitudes towards pornography, and that pornography is not addictive.

Impact and interest:

Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

1,662 since deposited on 01 Jun 2011
189 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 41858
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: pornography, sexual development, sexualised representations
ISSN: 0811-6202
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA STUDIES (200100)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 Australian Journal of Communication
Deposited On: 01 Jun 2011 21:52
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 17:10

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page