HONG KONG: Most Hong Kong youngsters have checked out pornographic websites on the Internet and about a fifth of them did it before they turned 10, according to research conducted by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
The survey showed that nearly 80 percent of kids between 10 and 17 had browsed online pornography.
The average age for a young person's first encounter among the 1,426 kids surveyed was 11.9.
Over 85 percent did it from home.
The researchers represented what they called the stark impact of early access to pornography.
Among mental health concerns, addiction was considered among the most prevalent.
"High-level" users, comprising 7.6 percent of those who accessed pornographic materials, were classified as young people who had spent more than 15 minutes a day watching pornography over the previous three months. Twenty percent among that group spoke of feelings of anxiety or impatience when their desire to look at pornography was thwarted. Another 25 percent said they couldn't stop looking.
Tammy Sin Chui-shan, community services officer of the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, expressed the belief that prolonged and intense access to pornographic materials has long-term harmful effects. She asserted that youngsters might easily confuse concepts and values of sexuality as seen on the Internet as reflecting normal family life. Thus she believed the behaviors of these individuals may turn deviant.
"They will think that those online are the genuine representations between two sexes, but in fact, these are all distorted. Boys might think violence is common when dealing with sex urges," she said.
Sin related her experience of a year ago in dealing with a primary four boy who had developed serious behavioral problems. He was left alone at home by his working parents. He indulged himself online with pornography consecutively for more than a year. Later, he indecently assaulted his girl classmate.
She said the boy had been normal prior to the assault and his mental difficulties had gone unnoticed by others.
Some 60 percent of the "high-level" users admitted recalling pornographic images after their online experiences. Some 46 percent imagined having sex with others. Thirty-three percent imagined observing the naked bodies of others. About 10 percent had videotaped themselves naked or engaged in other sexually-related behaviors.
Sin suggested collective efforts by Internet providers, schools, counseling organizations and parents to prevent the distribution of pornographic materials. She suggests Internet providers add filters, warnings and links of counseling organizations. She recommends that schools provide sex education to senior primary pupils.
Most importantly she said, parents should be open-minded and ready to discuss sex with their children and to act as role models for them.
(HK Edition 07/18/2009 page1)