|Public domain photo via Pixabay|
people to seek information.
A new study published this month in Pediatrics (doi: 10.1542/ peds.2014-0592) explores the ways Dutch adolescents’ use of Internet sites shaped their perceptions of their body images and sexual self-perceptions.
Researchers at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and Boston Children’s Hospital explored how often teenagers looked at sexually explicit Internet material (pornography) and social networking sites.
The researchers examined the use of such sites among 1,132 Dutch children who were enrolled in the 7th through 10th grades. Ms. Suzan Doornwaard and her colleagues examined four groups of students over six-month intervals and assessed their behaviors using a computerized questionnaire that the students completed during school hours.
The researchers found boys visited pornography sites occasionally and that their use increased over time. Social networking sites were used daily and commonly by both boys and girls. Dutch researchers also reported that the adolescents who had higher initial use of sex-related online behavior or rapidly increased use were more likely to have less satisfaction with their own, actual sexual experiences. Additionally, the study's authors noted that adolescents who didn't have private access to the web and more parental rules on internet use were more likely to be involved in sex-related behavior online.
The study provides some initial, limited guidance for parents and suggests that parental guidance on Internet use for adolescents is a smart idea. Knowing where and what adolescents look at online and discussing it with them seem to be smart parenting strategies.