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Major survey to provide evidence of young New Zealanders’ experience of porn

10 August 2018

A major research project studying how and why young New Zealanders are viewing pornography today will put the experiences of teenagers at the centre of the debate about internet porn, says Chief Censor David Shanks.

The project, Youth and Porn – how and why young New Zealanders are viewing pornography has just been launched by the Office of Film & Literature Classification (Classification Office).

Chief Censor David Shanks says the aim of the research is to get real evidence directly from teens themselves, so that any policy changes can be properly informed.

“The ubiquity of the internet and smartphones means that issues around teens and younger children being exposed to porn either deliberately or accidentally is something we just can’t ignore,” says Mr Shanks “we know that about 30% of all internet traffic is porn, and we know from overseas research that the age of first exposure keeps getting younger”

“Nobody really knows what this all means for our kids, but we know enough from our previous research and from overseas studies that this may be creating problems for at least some young people. And we know that parents, caregivers and frontline sexual health services are worried.”

In order to address an identified gap in New Zealand research, the Classification Office is working with social research agency Colmar Brunton to conduct a nationally representative survey of 14-17 year old New Zealanders. The survey has already commenced, and it is intended to publish the findings by December 2018.

“This is a major survey – we will be hearing from nearly 2,300 teens, representing about 1% of all the New Zealanders in this age range.”

“The key thing here is that by putting young peoples actual experiences and concerns on the table, we will have the best chance of making changes that will really help them.”

Mr Shanks said he expected that the findings would be valuable for a wide range of agencies, and could help inform work spanning sexuality education, sexual violence prevention, digital literacy and updates to regulation.

a person using a smartphone. The image focusses on their hands.