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Minerva Pediatrics 2022 Feb 15

DOI: 10.23736/S2724-5276.19.05342-8


language: English

The use of online pornography among minors: epidemiological analysis of the phenomenon

Davide CARNEVALI 1, Laura CAVAZZANA 1, Ludovico GRIMOLDI 1, Pietro MAGNONI 1, Niccolò PRINCIPI 1, Alberto PELLAI 2

1 Department of Biomedical Sciences for Health, Postgraduate School in Public Health, University of Milan, Milan, Italy; 2 Department of Biomedical Sciences for Health, University of Milan, Milan, Italy


BACKGROUND: In recent years, the quick spread of Internet has brought many children and teenagers to be increasingly connected online without adult control. The use of Internet offers many opportunities, but at the same time it exposes young users to multiple risks. Among these, the consumption of sexually explicit internet material (SEIM) is one of the most relevant. The aim of the present study is to describe the epidemiology of this phenomenon with particular regard to its prevalence and distribution among sexes and different age groups.
METHODS: A literature search was performed on PubMed and ScienceDirect using the query “(pornography OR sexually explicit internet material) AND (adolescent OR child OR young)”. Only papers published between 2013 and 2018 were included in the analysis.
RESULTS: According to selected studies (n=21), the prevalence of boys approaching SEIM ranges from 56% to 100%, whereas the percentage widely varies between 7.6% and 82% for girls. The first exposure to SEIM happens in a purely accidental way in over half of cases and at a mean age of 12 years for males and 14.5 years for females. The risk of exposure is doubled for smartphone and tablet owners.
CONCLUSIONS: The spread of pornography and SEIM among minors seems to be epidemic and even pandemic. We need to consider its possible effects on the psychophysical welfare of the very young, influencing their growth and development. Therefore, the impact that pornography may have on the physical, psychological and sexual health of younger people warrants further investigation.

KEY WORDS: Pornography; Adolescent; Child

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