05 December 2018
Waiho i te toipoto, kaua i te toiroa
Let us keep close together, not far apart
We surveyed more than 2,000 New Zealanders aged 14-17 for the research project NZ Youth and Porn: Research findings of a survey on how and why young New Zealanders view online pornography. This page provides a summarised version of the key findings.
Our young people have spoken and they are self-aware that porn has an impact on them – whether that be positive, or negative, or both. This report makes a vital contribution to our understanding of this subject, and more importantly, puts our young people’s views at the forefront of potential change.Chief Censor David Shanks
Most young people in New Zealand have seen pornography. One in four young people first saw porn by the age of 12. Three out of four have seen it by 17. Most young people were not seeking out pornography when they first saw it, but they came across it anyway.
Some young people are viewing porn regularly (15% view porn at least monthly, weekly or daily). The majority of these young people started viewing porn regularly by age 14.
It’s common for young people to have seen violence, aggression and non-consensual activity. Young people were more likely to see a focus on men’s pleasure and dominance, while also more likely to see women being demeaned, subjected to violence or aggression, and non-consensual behaviour.
Young people are likely to see porn regardless of gender, ethnicity or sexuality, however most young people have never talked about it with a parent or caregiver.
"For people my age, images and porn are kind of all we know what sex looks like. Lots of those inappropriate pics and vids pop up online even with spam blocks”14-year-old girl
Sex isn’t such a big deal. Everyone is a sexual being17-year-old girl
Most young people agree that porn can influence people’s behaviour and attitudes. More often in a negative way. Common themes were that porn promotes false expectations and unhealthy views about sex and relationships, and that it normalises violence and aggressive behaviour. However a majority of teens think that porn has some positive influences as well. For example its usefulness as a learning tool.Young people told us they use porn as a way of learning about sex. For some, porn is the primary way they learn about sex. One in five young people who have seen porn in the past six months say they’ve tried doing something they’ve seen in porn.
Most young people have received information about sex at school, but a third of them think the information was ‘not that useful’ or ‘not at all useful’, and only a minority said it was ‘very useful’. Young people want more and better information about sex.
Positive: It shows young people, who may not have received any decent sexual education, how the mechanics of sexual interaction happens. It also shows some people that their desires are not unnatural or immoral.
Negative: It sets a benchmark that is way too high for many young people, in terms of their performance. Males who can’t ‘bang away’ for hours, and girls who won’t take anal or accept cum on their faces, feel that they will fail to satisfy their partners, and so encourages depression and social withdrawal17-year-old boy
On a positive note, porn exposes you to different genres of sex and diversity within roles, but a negative is that people can get exposed to an unrealistic standard of sex, hyper masculinity or hyper femininity17-year-old girl
Young people look at porn for a variety of reasons. It’s common for young people to look at porn out of curiosity or for sexual arousal or pleasure. But some also look at porn because they’re bored, or because they’re stressed or anxious. Some use it to help sleep, and others want to be ‘grossed out’. It’s not a simple picture – but the reality isn’t simple.
When they see porn, young people are most likely to feel curiosity, sexual arousal and worry about being caught. While young people are more likely to feel relaxed, happy or positive while looking at porn, some report feeling upset, sad or unhappy. Many young people have positive associations with porn – however the majority, including regular viewers, say they see things in porn that make them feel uncomfortable.
Some young people are struggling with their level of usage. Nearly half of regular viewers of porn would like to view it less often, but find this hard to do.
...By looking and learning it helps with the anxiety and a basic knowledge of what to do… Some porn is brutal and violent and degrading to the woman and it is this that I believe is the problem. As being young and seeing that, you are led to believe that is how you treat a woman, which in my eyes is wrong!15-year-old boy
I think although it is inappropriate before I watched [porn] I didn’t really know how sex worked and I think it educates kids on what actually happens. It also assists with masturbation which can be a good stress release method. The negative impacts are that porn sex is usually fake and we expect too much when we actually have sex. Also some boys might not be able to orgasm without porn14-year-old girl
Young New Zealanders overwhelmingly agree that porn isn’t for kids. Around a third think it’s ok for people around their own age to look at porn, but around half say that porn is either for adults only or that it’s not ok for anyone to see it. In other words, a lot of young people (including regular viewers) think it’s not ok for people their own age to look at porn.
We asked young people if they thought children and teens’ access to online porn should be restricted in some way, for example by blocking or filtering content, or requiring proof of ID. The great majority – including half of all regular viewers – agreed that there should be some kind of restriction for people under 18.
I was searching Google for bareback horse riding pictures when was 12. It showed me gay porn. I didn’t know what it was, but Mum came in and explained. It made me think negatively about sex16-year-old girl
We’ve done the research, and young people have identified the issues:
This research provides an opportunity to take a collaborative approach, incorporating regulation, education, and tools and information for New Zealanders.
Family Planning provide a range of services including sexual and reproductive health information, clinical services, and education.
Youthline works with young people, their families and those supporting young people. The team are free to call on 0800 376 633.
It’s Time We Talked is a website that is dedicated to an integrated porn education for young people.
Netsafe works to help people in New Zealand by providing practical tools, support and advice for managing online challenges.
If you're interested in practical tools and parental locks, click here.
We'd love to hear what you think about this research. If you have any feedback you can find us on Facebook and Twitter, or contact us by phone on 0508 236 767, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.