Disclaimer: this is a stock image and does not imply the young people depicted are involved in sexting or pornography.
The prolific use of social media and smartphones in young people’s lives has changed the nature of their development, sexual experience and social relationships. Australian adolescents have greater access to pornography than ever before, and there’s strong evidence that the age of first exposure to pornography is falling.
Burnet research (Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll 2015) indicates the average age of first watching pornography is 14 years and almost half of Australia’s young people have tried sexting (sending sexy or nude pictures via mobile phones or social media).
More than 80 per cent of young people first viewed pornography before they engaged in any other sexual experiences. But there is little research evidence about what impact this access is having on young people’s behaviour, attitudes, and relationships with friends, families, social networks and the wider community.
Dr Lim, who was awarded Burnet Institute’s Gust-McKenzie Medal in recognition of excellence in research or public health, said the lack of research evidence contributes to the polarised nature of the public debate around the issues.
“Many people, including parents of teenagers, are very scared because they concerned about what their kids are doing. That’s why we need to generate some more robust evidence to inform the debate.”
Read the entire article in the latest edition of IMPACT magazine.