Associations Between Croatian Adolescents’ Use of Sexually Explicit Material and Sexual Behavior: Does Parental Monitoring Play a Role?
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The use of sexually explicit material (SEM) has become a part of adolescent sexual socialization, at least in the Western world. Adolescent and young people’s SEM use has been associated with risky sexual behaviors, which has recently resulted in policy debates about restricting access to SEM. Such development seems to suggest a crisis of the preventive role of parental oversight. Based on the Differential Susceptibility to Media Effects Model, this study assessed the role of parental monitoring in the context of adolescent vulnerability to SEM-associated risky or potentially adverse outcomes (sexual activity, sexual aggressiveness, and sexting). Using an online sample of Croatian 16-year-olds (N = 1265) and structural equation modeling approach, parental monitoring was found consistently and negatively related to the problematic behavioral outcomes, regardless of participants’ gender. While SEM use was related to sexual experience and sexting, higher levels of parental monitoring were associated with less frequent SEM use and lower acceptance of sexual permissiveness. Despite parents’ fears about losing the ability to monitor their adolescent children’s lives in the Internet era, there is evidence that parental engagement remains an important protective factor.
KeywordsAdolescents Sexually explicit material Parental monitoring Sexual experience Sexting Sexual aggressiveness
This work has been fully funded by Croatian Science Foundation (Grant No. 9221).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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