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Wolak, et. al. Unwanted and wanted exposure to online pornography in a national sample of youth Internet users.

Wolak, Janis, Kimberly Mitchell, and David Finkelhor. Unwanted and wanted exposure to online pornography in a national sample of youth Internet users. Pediatrics 119.2 (2007): 247-257.
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  DOI: 10.1542/peds.2006-1891 2007;119;247 Pediatrics Janis Wolak, Kimberly Mitchell and David Finkelhor Youth Internet UsersUnwanted and Wanted Exposure to Online Pornography in a National Sample of located on the World Wide Web at: The online version of this article, along with updated information and services, is   of Pediatrics. All rights reserved. Print ISSN: 0031-4005. Online ISSN: 1098-4275.Boulevard, Elk Grove Village, Illinois, 60007. Copyright © 2007 by the American Academy published, and trademarked by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 141 Northwest Pointpublication, it has been published continuously since 1948. PEDIATRICS is owned, PEDIATRICS is the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. A monthly  at Univ Of Colorado on July 30, 2014pediatrics.aappublications.orgDownloaded from at Univ Of Colorado on July 30, 2014pediatrics.aappublications.orgDownloaded from at Univ Of Colorado on July 30, 2014pediatrics.aappublications.orgDownloaded from   ARTICLE Unwanted and Wanted Exposure to OnlinePornography in a National Sample of YouthInternet Users Janis Wolak, JD, Kimberly Mitchell, PhD, David Finkelhor, PhD Crimes against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire  The authors have indicated they have no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose. ABSTRACT OBJECTIVE. The goal was to assess the extent of unwanted and wanted exposure toonline pornography among youth Internet users and associated risk factors. METHODS. A telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 1500 youthInternet users aged 10 to 17 years was conducted between March and June 2005. RESULTS. Forty-two percent of youth Internet users had been exposed to onlinepornography in the past year. Of those, 66% reported only unwanted exposure.Multinomial logistic regression analysis was used to compare youth with un-wanted exposure only or any wanted exposure with those with no exposure.Unwanted exposure was related to only 1 Internet activity, namely, using file-sharing programs to download images. Filtering and blocking software reduced therisk of unwanted exposure, as did attending an Internet safety presentation by lawenforcement personnel. Unwanted exposure rates were higher for teens, youthwho reported being harassed or sexually solicited online or interpersonally vic-timized offline, and youth who scored in the borderline or clinically significantrange on the Child Behavior Checklist subscale for depression. Wanted exposurerates were higher for teens, boys, and youth who used file-sharing programs todownload images, talked online to unknown persons about sex, used the Internetat friends’ homes, or scored in the borderline or clinically significant range on theChild Behavior Checklist subscale for rule-breaking. Depression also could be arisk factor for some youth. Youth who used filtering and blocking software hadlower odds of wanted exposure. CONCLUSIONS. More research concerning the potential impact of Internet pornogra-phy on youth is warranted, given the high rate of exposure, the fact that muchexposure is unwanted, and the fact that youth with certain vulnerabilities, such asdepression, interpersonal victimization, and delinquent tendencies, have moreexposure.  To comply with Section 507 of Public Law104-208 (the Stevens Amendment), weadvise readers that 100% of the funds forthis research were derived from federalsources, through grant 2005-MC-CX-K024from the Office of Juvenile Justice andDelinquency Prevention, US Department of Justice, and grant HSCEOP-05-P-00346from the Department of HomelandSecurity, US Secret Service. The totalamount of federal funding was $348767.Points of view or opinions in this article arethose of the authors and do not necessarilyrepresent the official position or policies of the US Department of Justice orDepartment of Homeland Security. KeyWords Internet, sexually explicit material,pornography, adolescents Abbreviations CBCL—Child Behavior ChecklistOR—odds ratioCI—confidence interval Accepted for publication Sep 28, 2006Address correspondence to Janis Wolak, JD,Crimes Against Children Research Center,University of New Hampshire, 10 West EdgeDr, Durham, NH 03824. E-mail: janis.wolak@unh.eduPEDIATRICS(ISSNNumbers:Print,0031-4005;Online,1098-4275).Copyright©2007bytheAmericanAcademyofPediatrics PEDIATRICS Volume 119, Number 2, February 2007  247  at Univ Of Colorado on July 30, 2014pediatrics.aappublications.orgDownloaded from   T HERE HAS BEEN  extensive worry about the possibleharms to youth of being exposed to online pornog-raphy. These worries have been expressed by the med-ical establishment, 1–4 psychologists, 5–8 the public, 9 Con-gress, 10,11 and even the US Supreme Court. 12,13 Takentogether, these expressions of concern suggest that thereis a broad consensus that youth should be shielded fromonline pornography.Fueling this concern is knowledge that many youthare exposed to online pornography. 14–21 Some of thisexposure is voluntary. In a 2005 survey, the authorsfound that 13% of youth Internet users 10 through 17years of age visited X-rated Web sites on purpose in thepast year. 14 However, even more youth (34%) wereexposed to online pornography they did not want to see,primarily through (in order of frequency) links to por-nography sites that came up in response to searches ormisspelled Web addresses or through links within Websites, pop-up advertisements, and spam e-mail. 14 Thisdegree of unwanted exposure may be a new phenome-non; before development of the Internet, there were fewplaces youth frequented where they might encounterunsought pornography regularly. Although there is ev-idence that most youth are not particularly upset whenthey encounter unwanted pornography on the Inter-net, 14,17 unwanted exposure could have a greater impacton some youth than voluntary encounters with pornog-raphy. Some youth may be psychologically and devel-opmentally unprepared for unwanted exposure, and on-line images may be more graphic and extreme thanpornography available from other sources. 9,14 Adding to concerns, unwanted exposure to onlinepornography has increased, rising to 34% of youth In-ternet users in 2005 from 25% in 1999 to 2000, withincreases among all age groups (10–17 years) and both boys and girls. 22 Moreover, Internet use has expandedrapidly since 2000. 23 Eighty-seven percent of youth 12 to17 years of age used the Internet in 2005, compared with73% in 2000. These numbers suggest that millions ofyouth Internet users are exposed to unwanted onlinepornography each year. 14 However, information aboutthe developmental trajectory of exposure to pornogra-phy, in terms of ages of exposure, for boys and girls islacking.Given the capabilities of Internet technology fortransmitting images 24–28 and the aggressive marketing ofonline pornography, 9 it could be that unwanted expo-sure has become a hazard of cyberspace, unrelated to thetypes of Internet use in which youth engage or particulardemographic or psychosocial characteristics. Our analy-sis of data from an similar survey conducted in 1999 to2000 found that unwanted exposure was related to cer-tain types of Internet use and was greater among youthwho suffered from depression and experienced negativelife events. 19 However, that analysis included, in theunwanted exposure group, a proportion of youth whohad both unwanted and wanted exposure. Becausewanted exposure was associated with delinquency, sub-stance abuse, and depression, 16 the wanted exposurealone could have accounted for the association. In addi-tion, some characteristics of youth Internet use havechanged since the earlier survey, 14 and research hasshown that certain youth are more prone to problematicInternet experiences, such as being harassed online andreceiving unwanted sexual solicitations. 29 Also, recentefforts to prevent exposure to online pornography could be affecting the profile of youth who have such encoun-ters. For example, by 2005, 21% of youth Internet usershad attended Internet safety programs hosted by lawenforcement agencies and 55% of families had placedsome sort of filtering/blocking software on the computertheir child used most often to go online. 14 In this study, we used data from the Second YouthInternet Safety Survey, a national survey of youth In-ternet users conducted in 2005, to look anew at the issueof unwanted and wanted exposure to online pornogra-phy. We separated youth into groups with no exposure,unwanted exposure only, or any wanted exposure. Weaddressed 2 research questions. First, what is the scopeof unwanted and wanted exposure to online pornogra-phy, on the basis of youth age and gender, among youthInternet users? Second, what demographic, Internet use,prevention, or psychosocial characteristics are related tounwanted and wanted exposure? We discuss how thesefindings can inform prevention efforts and future re-search about the impact of exposure to online pornog-raphy, particularly unwanted exposure, among youthInternet users. METHODS Participants We used telephone interviews conducted betweenMarch and June 2005 to gather information from anational sample of youth Internet users. The researchwas approved by the University of New Hampshire in-stitutional review board.Participants were 1500 youth aged 10 to 17 years(mean age: 14.24 years; SD: 2.09 years) who had usedthe Internet at least once per month for the past 6months. Sample characteristics are shown in Table 1.Well-educated, prosperous families and white individu-als were overrepresented in the sample but approxi-mated the population of youth Internet users at the timeof data collection. 30 Procedure The sample was drawn from a national sample of house-holds with telephones, developed through random-digitdialing. Details about the dispositions of the numbersdialed and a more-detailed description of the methodcan be found in other publications. 14,29 Short interviews 248  WOLAK et al  at Univ Of Colorado on July 30, 2014pediatrics.aappublications.orgDownloaded from   were conducted with parents, and then youth were in-terviewed with parental consent. Youth interviews werescheduled at the youth’ convenience, when they couldtalk freely and confidentially. The average interviewlasted  30 minutes.The response rate, based on standard guidelines pro-mulgated by the American Association for Public Opin-ion Research, was 45%. 31 This rate, which is lower thanrates typical of surveys in earlier decades, is in line withother recent scientific household surveys, 32 which con-tinue to obtain representative samples and to provideaccurate data about the views and experiences of USpopulations, despite lower response rates. 33 Measures Unwanted Exposure, Online Harassment, and Unwanted Sexual Solicitation We defined unwanted exposure to online pornographyas answering yes to one or both of the following ques-tions. (1) “In the past year when you were doing anonline search or surfing the Web, did you ever findyourself in a Web site that showed pictures of nakedpeople or of people having sex when you did not want to be in that kind of site?” (2) “In the past year, did youever open a message or a link in a message that showedyou actual pictures of naked people or of people havingsex that you did not want?”We also examined whether exposure to pornographymight be related to 2 other problematic Internet experi-ences that were investigated in the survey, namely, be-ing harassed online and receiving unwanted sexual so-licitations. Online harassment was defined as threats orother offensive behavior sent online to the youth orposted online about the youth for others to see. Un-wanted sexual solicitations were defined as requests toengage in sexual activities or sexual talk or to give per-sonal sexual information that were unwanted or,whether wanted or not, were made by an adult.Before any incident was counted as unwanted expo-sure, online harassment, or unwanted sexual solicita- TABLE 1  SampleCharacteristics( n  1422) Characteristic Proportion,% Age, y10 511 812 1013 1314 1415 1616 1717 17GenderMale 51Female 49Parent marital statusMarried 76Living with partner 3Divorced, separated, or widowed 13Single, never married 8Highest household educational levelNo high school diploma 2High school diploma 20Some college 23College graduate 32Post-college degree 23Household income, $  20000 820000–50000 2750001–75000 24  75000 33RaceWhite 76Black 13Asian 3American Indian/Alaskan Native 3Other 1Hispanic ethnicity 9Internet use characteristicsHigh level of Internet use 27Low level of Internet use 22What youth did onlineUsed instant messaging 67Went to chat rooms 29Played games 83Used file-sharing program to download music 37Used file-sharing program to download images 14Kept an online journal/blog 15 Talked online with friends 79Visited online dating sites 1 Talked online with people not known in person 32 Talked online with unknown people about sex 5Youth reportedBeing harassed online 7Receiving unwanted online sexual solicitation 11Had Internet access atHome 91School 90Friends’ homes 68Cellular phone 16Computer was in bedroom 14Prevention effortsUsed pop-up advertisement or spam e-mail blocker 74Used other filtering/blocking software 48Parent talked with youth about online pornography 51Adult at school talked with youth about online pornography 38 TABLE 1  Continued Characteristic Proportion,% Attended law enforcement Internet safety presentation 21Psychosocial characteristicsHigh parent-child conflict 13Sexual or physical abuse in past year 3Peer or other interpersonal victimization in past year 37CBCL subscales (scored in borderline or clinically significant range)Aggressive behavior 6Attention problems 1Rule-breaking behavior 6Social problems 6Withdrawn/depressed 4 Some categories may not add to 100% because of rounding or missing data. PEDIATRICS Volume 119, Number 2, February 2007  249  at Univ Of Colorado on July 30, 2014pediatrics.aappublications.orgDownloaded from 
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