Chapter

Children’s Encounters with Sexual Content: Different Readings of Cross-Country Empirical Evidence

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.

Abstract

Tsaliki offers an alternative reading of children’s voices when it comes to their experiences with sexual content. Instead of following the normative conceptualization of such experiences as ‘risky’, she shows how a particular epistemology (in this case, the EU Kids Online approach that contextualizes sexual content as ‘problematic’ for children) impacts upon the way in which we make sense of children and what is ‘appropriate’ (or ‘problematic’) for them. She follows this by a meta-analysis and recoding of children’s voices from Greece, the UK, Spain, Italy and Australia regarding their perceptions of sexual content in an attempt to provide a different contextualization of the relationship of children with media representations of sex.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Chapter
Full-text available
We live in an era of contested conceptualisations of childhood. On the one hand, the commercial imperative of contemporary capitalism has expanded into marketing for and to children. On the other hand, the predominant view of childhood as a natural, universal and biologically inherent period of human development, imagined as an age of innocence where the child is vulnerable to the threat of deviant sexuality, means that we experience a nervous dialectic in which children are held to be 'naturally' innocent yet, at the same time, implicated in dangerous sexuality. This means that rather than seeing them as humans going through a complex and contradictory maturation process, we posit children as inherently pure, yet easily corrupted by exposure to explicit image material (Kleinhans, 2004, p 72). However, the assumed harmful influence of pornography on children goes back to a long and still ongoing tradition of media effects, and has been exacerbated with the advent and unprecedented proliferation of online pornography. Children need to be protected from harmful content, which includes pornographic content. We live, the argument goes, in a culture saturated and depraved by uncontrolled sexuality, in which childhood innocence is debauched by media and consumer culture within which the availability of sexual information to children is rarely treated as positive. Alongside a growing acceptance that young viewers interpret pornography in complex ways and claims that media 'effects' are simplistic and overly deterministic – especially when pornography is also seen as having desirable effects, as in the case of challenging restrictive sexual norms and offering positive expressions of non-heterosexual sexualities – there is a need to be cautious about the harmful effects associated with pornography 1 (Flood, 2007). The ubiquity of children's encounters with internet pornography has been discussed by various researchers and institutions, in different national
Technical Report
Full-text available
Panic around children's exposure to pornography Concerns about what type of and how much sexual content children encounter in the media have been widely circulated within public and academic debates. Such concerns are usually followed by campaigns against pornography and in favour of children's right to innocence, but also by stricter internet and parental regulation. Stakeholders' primary concern has been whether, or how much, children are affected by pornography. Given the overall activity on the topic, there has been an intensification of campaigns, and as a result, further developments in research (e.g. Horvath et al., 2013; Smahel and Wright, 2014). Regardless of whether such concerns are justified or not, researchers have long been gathering data about how many children encounter sexual content in the media, how frequently they do so, what kind of emotions such encounters provoke, or whether such content overall comprises a harmful experience for them. In this report, we attempt a critical evaluation of the body of knowledge provided by research with children across Europe since 2000. From political initiatives against the diffusion of pornography to protect children, to increasing research about pornography's possible influence on children, the topic has received great attention, especially since the broad diffusion of online technologies. Inevitably, then, the intensification of the public debate has led to further research on the topic from different perspectives. Namely, effects researchers have studied the potential impact sexual content might have on children's cognitive development, attitudes towards sex and women, or behaviour when engaging in sexual relationships (e.g. Flood, 2009; Peter and Valkenburg, 2011).
Article
Full-text available
Research on the risks associated with children's use of the internet often aims to inform policies of risk prevention. Yet paralleling the effort to map the nature and extent of online risk is a growing unease that the goal of risk prevention tends to support an over-protective, risk-averse culture that restricts the freedom of online exploration that society encourages for children in other spheres. It is central to adolescence that teenagers learn to anticipate and cope with risk - in short, to become resilient. In this article, we inquire into children and teenagers' responses after they have experienced online content or contact risks. Pan-European findings show that especially in Northern European countries with high internet access, parental perception of likelihood of online risk to their child is negatively associated with their perceived ability to cope. A comparison of representative surveys conducted among children in three relatively 'high risk' countries (Norway, Ireland and the United Kingdom) found that although the frequency of exposure to perceived online risks, especially content risks, is fairly high, most children adopt positive (e.g. seek help from friends) or, more commonly, neutral (e.g. ignoring the experience) strategies to cope, although a minority exacerbate the risks (e.g. passing risky content on to friends). Most strategies tend to exclude adult involvement. Significant differences in both risk and coping are found by gender and age across these countries, pointing to different styles of youthful risk management.
Article
Full-text available
This article revisits young people's experiences with sexual content in the light of dominant arguments in the public debate concerning the potential effects, or risk and harm for young people. Drawing upon a research project I conducted in 2011, I argue in this article that there might be an alternative approach to young people's experiences with sexual content, one deriving from the Foucauldian perspective on sexuality as a self-governing discourse. Set in a social constructionist framework my discussion prioritises young people's accounts as reflections on a constructed notion of sexuality.
Article
Full-text available
The internet offers adolescents a huge window of opportunities, but these opportunities are not always exempt from risks. Indeed, many young people are nowadays confronted with spam, gruesome or violent images and content including pornography, drugs, racism, and even suicide. We surveyed 815 Flemish 15- to 19-year-olds about the online risks they (may) have been confronted with and on how they cope with these risks. We controlled for digital literacy levels, socio-demographics and personality traits. Interestingly, our research shows that not only adolescents with a high level of internet literacy but also those with lower internet literacy levels, such as youths enrolled in vocational education, tend to be more frequently exposed to online risks. Also worthwhile noting is the fact that a high level of self-confidence positively correlates with exposure to risky online content. In general, adolescents do not consult anybody when it comes to coping with risks and negative experiences online. However, a good parent-child relationship pays off as kids with a good parental relationship encounter aggressive, sexual or value-based content less frequently.
Article
Full-text available
This article introduces the notion of I-pistemology to capture a contemporary cultural process in which people from all walks of life have come to suspect the knowledge coming from official institutions and experts, and have replaced it with the truth coming from their own individual experience and opinions. While, at present, such personal experiences are successfully mobilized by the new right in Europe, the author argues that I-pistemology is also the result of critical theory and movements that have identified ‘knowledge’ as an instrument of power that needs to be contested. In addition online and offline popular culture have raised personal experience to the level of the only relevant truth. In conclusion, the article discusses the repercussions of I-pistemology for policy and progressive politics.
Article
Full-text available
This exploratory paper suggests some emerging arenas of public debate across the personal life‐from 'test-tube babies' to 'lesbian and gay families'‐which when taken together may be captured by the term 'intimate citizenship'. This suggests a plurality of public discourses developing about how to live the personal and intimate life in a late modern and global world where we are often confronted by an escalating series of choices and difficulties around intimacies. A framework of four key issues is suggested for fuller examination. This entails the changing nature of the public sphere; the growth of culture wars and the need for dialogue; the narrativisation process and grounded moralities; and the links to global intimacies.
Article
Full-text available
The research project: UK Children Go Online (UKCGO) aims to offer a rigorous and timely investigation of 9-19 year olds’ use of the internet. The project balances an assessment of online risks and opportunities in order to contribute to developing academic debates and policy frameworks for children and young people’s internet use. The research was funded by an Economic and Social Research Council grant under the ‘e-Society’ Programme, with co-funding from AOL, BSC, Childnet-International, Citizens Online and ITC. This report presents key findings from a major national, inhome, face to face survey, lasting some 40 minutes, of 1,511 9-19 year olds and 906 parents of the 9-17 year olds, using Random Location sampling across the UK (see Annex). It complements the project’s recent qualitative report on young people’s experiences of the internet. The fieldwork, conducted via multi-media computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) with children and a paper questionnaire to their parents, took place between 12 January and 7 March 2004. In this report of findings from the UKCGO survey, all percentages have been weighted in accordance with population statistics.
Article
This article reviews and examines emerging academic approaches to the study of ‘sexualized culture’; an examination made necessary by contemporary preoccupations with sexual values, practices and identities, the emergence of new forms of sexual experience and the apparent breakdown of rules, categories and regulations designed to keep the obscene at bay. The article maps out some key themes and preoccupations in recent academic writing on sex and sexuality, especially those relating to the contemporary or emerging characteristics of sexual discourse. The key issues of pornographication and democratization, taste formations, postmodern sex and intimacy, and sexual citizenship are explored in detail.
Article
In this paper, I focus on what has been called a paradigm shift in pornography research, driven by the development of particular theoretical and political concerns and by changing material conditions, and on the academic work that has emerged from this. I describe the current situation where studies in the area are more diverse than ever before, while public debate continues to draw on a relatively limited approach based on a concern with what media ‘does’ to behaviour. I outline two areas in particular which currently dominate public and political discussions; namely the sexualization of mainstream media and ‘extreme’ imagery on the fringes of culture, and suggest ways in which these present new challenges and opportunities for developing pornography research.
Children Talking Television: The Making of Television Literacy
  • D Buckingham
Risk and Safety on the Internet: The Perspective of European Children. Full Findings and Policy Implications from the EU Kids Online Survey of 9–16 Year Olds and Their Parents in 25 Countries
  • S Livingstone
  • L Haddon
  • A Görizig
  • K Ólafsson
The Material Child: Growing Up in Consumer Culture
  • D Buckingham
Images of Children and Morality
  • M King
Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex
  • J Levine
with Kontogianni, S. 2012.) GR Kids Go Online. Final Report for the Greek Secretariat of Youth
  • L Tsaliki
  • D Chronaki
A Global Agenda for Children’s Rights in the Digital Age: Recommendations for Developing Unicef’s Research Strategy
  • S Livingstone
  • M E Bulger