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For example, one databased educational effort could be to counsel teens that online porn "is one very specific notion of sex and sexuality, and may not correspond with what they, and most adults, experience in their sex lives," he says.Others, though, suspect that frequent exposure may erode young people's ability to see the opposite sex in a wholesome way."We don't really know, but we suspect that exposure to, say, 10, 20, 30,000 pages of pornography may bias a young person in terms of what they consider a normal relationship," says Di Clemente, who says it will be up to policymakers and parents to decide what to do if that turns out to be the case.Psychologist and technology researcher Larry Rosen, Ph D, of California State University, Dominguez Hills, is looking at one such shield: parents.In an as-yet-unpublished study, he found that young people's actions on My Space--including looking at others' risqué poses, displaying their own and tapping into porn links--are strongly influenced by parenting styles.The team also will survey the teens every two months on their sexual attitudes, onset of sexual behavior and frequency of sexually risky behavior.
Their wish list includes a more detailed look at the effects of online pornography on young people under a range of exposure and family conditions, more longitudinal studies and a closer look at how inadvertent exposure may affect the young.
His team asked parents and young people to rate the way parents monitored young people's computer use, dividing parents into four categories: authoritative, combining warmth and control; authoritarian, melding control and low warmth; indulgent, displaying warmth and low control; and neglectful, combining low warmth and low control.
Authoritative and authoritarian parents were much more likely than indulgent or neglectful ones to limit their youngsters' use of My Space, for example by keeping tabs on their children's My Space pages and requiring them to keep the computer in family rooms, the team found.
It's too early to say what these findings mean--or even what to do if clearer results are shown.
Some, for example, believe that being sexually curious is part of the developmental process and that Internet porn is one, albeit problematic, way to satisfy that curiosity.