Pornography and Sexual Exploitation of Children on the Internet Research Proposal

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Pornography Internet

The proliferation of internet use has produced greater access to information for young media users. It has also heightened the risk that such use will lead to the exposure to harmful materials. The research conducted here defines harmful materials as sexually explicit imagery or pornography and connects internet proliferation with patters of younger exposure and higher permeation of exposure amongst adolescent and pre-adolescent users. A qualitative literature review examines this claim in light of potentially negative impacts to sexual development such as the distortion of normal sexual expectations and the magnification of sexual confusion. The literature review also touches on the normative nature of exposure to sexual imagery for adolescents and teens, indicating that for some, this is part of normal development in sexual awareness. The research produces the recommendation that further research be conducted to isolate and identify specific sexual development consequences of early pornography exposure amongst adolescent boys.

Adolescent and Pre-Adolescent Exposure to Pornography on the Internet

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Research Proposal on Pornography and Sexual Exploitation of Children on the Internet Assignment

The Internet has produced a great many opportunities for the expansion of knowledge, for independent learning and the youthful exploration of countless opportunities for education, entertainment, socialization and stimulation. With these, it has also produced an array of risks for its most vulnerable of users which produces a great degree of concern and debate over how to control internet usage for both those who create content and those who consume it. Much of the concern centers around the proliferation of pornography which has been one of the internet's most controversial of accomplishments. Indeed, the relative media frontier which is the Internet is governed by very few real restrictions, principles of censorship or limitations in usage at the broad sociological level. The result is that in many more liberalized media contexts, the Internet will tend to be the most popular access point to pornographic images, materials and even interactive communities. As the study here concerns this availability of pornographic images, a primary emergent consideration is that this is likely to significantly increase the access which underage Web users have to said imagery. The study proposed here proceeds from the assumption that the proliferation of Internet usage among pre-adolescent and adolescent boys has both increased the exposure which this demographic has to pornographic material and has lowered the age at which this demographic is likely to be first exposed to such material. In order to investigate this assumption, the research hereafter will be conducted in the form of a comprehensive literature review. This will address issues relating web use, exposure to pornographic material and childhood sexual development. This synthesis of materials would lead into a research investigation proposal intending to isolate patterns specific to the United States and pornography exposure.

Methods:

The literature review conducted hereafter is a qualitative research investigation relating internet usage and underage pornography exposure. The research is primarily intended simply to serve as an overview of the subject. As such, it will consider literature which objectively defines the nature of the issue, literature which takes the perspective that these patterns may have negative developmental effects on those exposed and literature which refutes claims that such exposure is likely to be damaging in any developmental regard. The research will be largely based on the discussion points yielded by such data, but are expected to produce the conclusions that the proliferation of internet usage has produced a pattern whereby adolescent or preadolescent boys are exposed to pornographic material. Consideration will also be given to such variables as the context in which exposure occurs, with the voluntary or involuntary nature of this exposure likely playing a role.

The literature review also considers several relevant points of consideration where investigation of the impact of such exposure is concerned from a child psychology perspective. Here, theories of sexual development will play a part in the nature of the discussion. Though the study is non-scientific in nature, it does present us with an independent variable, which is the proliferation of internet access. This is proposed to correlate to a potential array of dependent variables such as age of exposure to pornographic material, the sociological permeation of this exposure and the nature of any potential developmental, psychological or sociological consequences of this exposure. Also, though the research is non-scientific in nature, its findings would be intended to produce recommendations for future study which is more focused and empirically driven in its design.

Also for the purposes of this discussion at least, which will focus much of its attention on web navigation in the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union primarily because these are contexts where so few restrictions exist to impede navigation or use of web content.

As a context for web navigation, this does not preclude our discussion from addressing content which may originate outside of these contexts, but will train our attention to the content viewing in such contexts so as to prevent discrepancy between these and contexts such as China, North Korea or Iran, where content usage is notoriously limited by government intervention. Often, such restrictions are perceived as impediments to individual liberties and media freedom. However, they provide a superficial counterpoint to the risks produced in a liberalized media system such as the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, which collectively provide little protection against individual 'misuse' of the Internet. The produces the complex philosophical and practical discussions which converge on the subject of proliferated and liberalized media usage, and requires also a consideration of such issues as the subjective identification of 'harmful materials.'

Findings:

Computers and computer-based technologies have become a part of our everyday lives. For many Americans and for people around the world, the computer has come to be seen as a gateway to the conduction of all manner of personal, professional, consumerist and social activities, whether at home, at work and/or while in transit. The fact of the computer's thorough integration into our lives is reflected with increasing seamlessness across generations, with our younger generations coming of age at a time when such technology is readily available, accessible and popularly appealing. As a point of fact, those who are entering elementary school today are considerably more likely to be well-acquainted already with the recreational and constructive aspects of the computer than were those who were entering into elementary school just a decade ago. One of the reasons for this relative shift is that, with the fairly swift evolution in the technology's applicable versatility, there has also occurred an equally swift evolution in its applicability to the needs, interests and faculties of today's young uses. This has of course created all manner of opportunity for early exposure to information, education and knowledge. But in direct correspondence with that exposure to information is the risk of exposure to potentially harmful materials. As the article by Ybarra & Mitchell (2005) contends, "Estimates suggest that up to 90% or more youth between 12 and 18 years have access to the Internet. Concern has been raised that this increased accessibility may lead to a rise in pornography seeking among children and adolescents, with potentially serious ramifications for child and adolescent sexual development." (p. 473)

These claims underscore the need here to consider on a surface level the implications of child and adolescent sexual development, which are largely identified as the psychological areas of greatest concern with regard to early exposure to pornography. In a certain respect, it is normal for the young man to begin to take an interest in sexuality and sexual imagery. As Rich (2002) shows, the normal and healthy child will reach adolescence with an increasingly evolved sense of awareness about the sexual self and about the desires which are accorded thereby. With the onset of more regular masturbation in the adolescent years of 10-14, there is also an increased drive for sexual validation. It is here that such conditions as sexual orientation, sexual self-image and the connection of social or romantic goals to sexual ambitions start to come into view. As Rich characterizes this period in the child's life, "as children move deeper into adolescence, romance, intimacy, and sexual issues are driven by and blend with physical feelings, emotions, and social expectations. Dating and more intense sexual relationships begin and deepen, moving from thinking about and discussing romances, to dating, kissing, sexual petting, and, in many cases, sexual relationships and intercourse." (p. 1)

In the early parts of this development though, research warns, there may be negative consequences to an early and/or frequent exposure to pornographic materials, as these experiences may have a determinant impact on the way the subject begins to view sexuality. As the article by Schwartz (2009) warns, the diversity of pornographic materials that are easily accessible online creates a complex set of expectations for young men whose first visual exposure to sexuality comes about thusly. The array of sexual predilections, deviations and variations which can be found on the internet are likely to confound what is already the very challenging process of defining one's own sexuality.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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