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Are we getting better about guarding children from pornography?

Last Updated: March 20, 2023

Luke Gilkerson
Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Your Brain on Porn and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

Unwanted access to porn may be on the decline

According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, unwanted exposure to pornography is less common today. Over the last 10 years there have been three Youth Internet Safety Surveys (YISS) conducted (in 2000, 2005, and 2010). In these surveys children and teens, ages 10 to 17, were asked, “In the past year  when you were doing an online search or surfing the web, did you ever find yourself in a Web site that showed pictures of naked people or of people having sex when you did not want to be in that kind of site?”

Here were some of the results:

  • Between 2000 and 2005 there was an increase in unwanted exposures to porn, going from 25% of youth to 34% of youth.
  • Between 2005 and 2010 there was a decrease in unwanted exposures to porn, going from 34% to 23%.
  • In each YISS survey, unwanted exposures to porn were more common among the 16-17 age group. In 2010, 28% of 16-17-year-olds said they had unwanted exposures.
  • For the 10-12 age group, unwanted exposures to porn have increased overall in the last 10 years: from 9% in 2000 to 15% in 2010. (There was a spike of 19% in 2005.)

The authors of the study attribute the overall decline to two factors:

  1. The detection capabilities of spamware and filters have become more refined in the last 10 years.
  2. Young people may have become better educated and more savvy about opening unidentified e-mails or clicking on unidentified links.

For those in the Internet safety sphere, this report is cause for celebration. Technology and education may, in fact, be paying off. However, we must also pause and remember these stats only apply to “unwanted” exposures to pornography, not youth who are intentionally accessing or looking for porn.

Read more:

  1. Teens and Porn: 10 Stats You Need to Know
  2. The Unfiltered Truth: Children Search for Pornography From an Early Age, by Brittany Glynn
  3. Tips for talking to your kids about porn: Important issues for important ages, by David Wever, LMFT
  4. Internet Precautions: Tips for helping you and your kids make good choices online, by Emily Malone