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Nearly 75% of teens have been exposed to porn, report finds

Seventy-three percent of teenagers have viewed online pornography, either intentionally or by accident, and half said they’d seen videos depicting rape or other sexual violence, according to a report released Tuesday.

The report by Common Sense Media asked more than 1,300 teens nationwide about their exposure to pornography. The majority first viewed porn at age 12, although 15% said they’d seen it younger than age 10. Almost half felt that pornography offers helpful information about sex.

Still, the report found some bright spots, especially for parents, said Supreet Mann, co-author of the report. Almost half of the respondents said they’d learned about sex and pornography from a parent or caregiver, and that it had inspired them to find alternative ways to explore sexuality aside from viewing porn.

“The results were encouraging, in some ways, especially the number of teens who said they’re interested in talking to a trusted caregiver about sex. Parents should know that kids want to have these conversations, and it can help.”

While porn itself is not necessarily harmful, violent sexual images or frequent porn viewing can distort a teen’s ideas about sex, the report said. Many parents already talk to their teenagers about healthy sexual relationships, birth control, sexually transmitted diseases and other topics, but they should also include pornography. Common Sense Media offers tips for parents on how to broach the topic.

“One place to start,” Mann said, “is showing them this report.”