Skip to main content

Associations Between Croatian Adolescents’ Use of Sexually Explicit Material and Sexual Behavior: Does Parental Monitoring Play a Role?

A Correction to this article was published on 01 February 2018

This article has been updated

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

Change history

  • 01 February 2018

    The versions of Figures 2–4 presented in the original version of this article were incomplete. In all three figures, structural paths were omitted. The article has been updated to provide the correct figures, which are also presented here.

References

  • Baams, L., Overbeek, H., Dubas, J. S., Doornwaard, S. M., Rommes, E., & van Aken, M. A. G. (2015). Perceived realism moderates the relation between sexualized media consumption and permissive sexual attitudes in Dutch adolescents. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44, 743–754.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Benotsch, E. G., Snipes, D. J., Martin, A. M., & Bull, S. S. (2013). Sexting, substance use, and sexual risk behavior in young adults. Journal of Adolescent Health, 52, 307–313.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Boislard, M. A., van de Bongardt, D., & Blais, M. (2016). Sexuality (and lack thereof) in adolescence and early adulthood: A review of the literature. Behavioral Sciences. https://doi.org/10.3390/bs6010008.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bonino, S., Ciairano, S., Rabaglietti, E., & Cattelino, E. (2006). Use of pornography and self-reported engagement in sexual violence among adolescents. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 3, 265–288.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Borawski, E. A., Ievers-Landis, C. E., Lovegreen, L. D., & Trapl, E. S. (2003). Parental monitoring, negotiated unsupervised time, and parental trust: The role of perceived parenting practices in adolescent health risk behaviors. Journal of Adolescent Health, 33, 60–70.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Boulat, M., Caddaye, D., D’Souza, H., Glyde, M., Hatwal, A., & Jansz, C. (2013). Submission to the Victorian Parliament Law Reform Committee’s inquiry into sexting. Retrieved 2 March 2016 from http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/file_uploads/LRC_Sexting_Final_Report_0c0rvqP5.pdf.

  • Brown, J. D., & L’Engle, K. L. (2009). X-Rated: Sexual attitudes and behaviors associated with U.S. early adolescent’s exposure to sexually explicit media. Communication Research, 36, 129–151.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brown, J. D., L’Engle, K. L., Pardun, C. J., Guo, G., Kenneavy, K., & Jackson, C. (2006). Sexy media matter: Exposure to sexual content in music, movies, television, and magazines predicts Black and White adolescent’s sexual behavior. Pediatrics, 117, 1018–1027.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Buckingham, D., & Bragg, S. (2004). Young people, sex and the media: The facts of life? New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Byrne, B. M., Shavelson, R. J., & Muthén, B. (1989). Testing for the equivalence of factor covariance and mean structures: The issue of partial measurement invariance. Psychological Bulletin, 105, 456–466.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Carrol, J. S., Padilla-Walker, L., Nelson, L. J., Olson, C. D., Barry, C. M., & Madsen, S. D. (2008). Generation XXX: Pornography acceptance and use among emerging adults. Journal of Adolescent Research, 23, 6–30.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Clark, A. B. (2014). Parenting through the digital revolution. In F. Saleh, A. Grudzinskas, & A. Judge (Eds.), Adolescent sexual behavior in the digital age: Consideration for clinicians, legal professionals and educators (pp. 247–261). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Collins, R., Elliot, M., Berry, S., Kanouse, D., Kunkel, D., Hunter, S., & Miu, A. (2004). Watching sex on television predicts adolescent initiation of sexual behavior. Pediatrics, 114, 280–289.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dake, J. A., Price, D. H., Mazriaz, L., & Ward, B. (2012). Prevalence and correlates of sexting behavior in adolescents. American Journal of Sexuality Education, 7, 1–15.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • de Graaf, H., van de Schoot, R., Woertman, L., Hawk, S. T., & Meeus, W. (2012). Family cohesion and romantic and sexual initiation: A three wave longitudinal study. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 41, 583–592.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Deptula, D. P., Henry, D. B., & Schoeny, M. E. (2010). How can parents make a difference? Longitudinal associations with adolescent sexual behavior. Journal of Family Psychology, 24, 731–739.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • DeVore, E. R., & Ginsburg, K. R. (2005). The protective effects of good parenting on adolescents. Current Opinion in Pediatrics, 17, 460–465.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • DiClemente, R. J., Wingood, G. M., Crosby, R., Sionean, C., Cobb, B. K., Harrington, K., & Oh, M. K. (2001). Parental monitoring: Association with adolescents’ risk behaviors. Pediatrics, 107, 1363–1368.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • East, P. L., Khoo, S. T., & Reyes, B. T. (2006). Risk and protective factors predictive of adolescent pregnancy: A longitudinal, prospective study. Applied Developmental Science, 10, 188–199.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ferguson, C. J. (2011). Sexting behaviours among young Hispanic women: Incidence and association with other high-risk sexual behaviors. Psychiatric Quarterly, 82, 239–243.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hald, G. M., Kuyper, L., Adam, P. C. G., & de Wit, J. B. F. (2013). Does viewing explain doing? Assessing the association between sexually explicit materials use and sexual behaviors in a large sample of Dutch adolescents and young adults. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 10, 2986–2995.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hald, G. M., Seaman, C., & Linz, D. (2014). Sexuality and pornography. In D. L. Tolman & L. M. Diamond (Eds.), APA handbook of sexuality and psychology, Vol. 2: Contextual approaches (pp. 3–35). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

    Google Scholar 

  • Horvath, M. A. H., Alys, L., & Massey, K. (2013). ‘Basically…porn is everywhere’: A rapid evidence assessment of the effects that access and exposure to pornography has on children and young people. London: Office of the Children’s Commissioner. Retrieved 2 April 2016 from: http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/Basically_porn_is_everywhere.pdf.

  • Hu, L., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6, 1–55.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Huber, P. J. (1967). The behavior of maximum likelihood estimates under nonstandard conditions. In L. Lecam & J. Neyman (Eds.), Proceedings of the Fifth Berkeley Symposium on Mathematical Statistics and Probability: Vol. 1. Theory of statistics (pp. 221–233). Berkeley: University of California Press.

  • Klettke, B., Hallford, D. J., & Mellor, D. J. (2014). Sexting prevalence and correlates: A systematic literature review. Clinical Psychology Review, 34, 44–53.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Kline, R. B. (2011). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. New York: Guilford.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kraus, S. W., & Russell, B. (2008). Early sexual experiences: The role of internet access and sexually explicit material. Cyber Psychology & Behavior, 11, 162–168.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Landripet, I., Baćak, V., & Štulhofer, A. (2011). Changes in HIV and STI related sexual risk taking among young Croatian adults: Findings from the 2005 and 2010 population-based surveys. Croatian Medical Journal, 52, 458–468.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Lo, V. H., & Wei, R. (2005). Exposure to Internet pornography and Taiwanese adolescents’ sexual attitudes and behavior. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 49, 221–237.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Löfgren-Mårteson, L., & Månsson, S. A. (2010). Lust, love, and life: A qualitative study of Swedish adolescents’ perceptions and experiences with pornography. Journal of Sex Research, 47, 568–579.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Luder, M. T., Pittet, I., Beerchtold, A., Akre, C., Michaud, P. A., & Suris, J. C. (2011). Associations between online pornography and sexual behavior among adolescents: Myth or reality? Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 1027–1035.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Malamuth, N., & Huppin, M. (2005). Pornography and teenagers: The importance of individual differences. Adolescent Medicine, 16, 315–326.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mardia, K. V. (1970). Measures of multivariate skewness and kurtosis with applications. Biometrika, 57, 519–530.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mattebo, M., Tyden, T., Haggstrom-Nordin, E., & Nilsson, K. W. (2013). Pornography consumption, sexual experiences, lifestyles, and self-rated health among male adolescents in Sweden. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 34, 460–468.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Matthiesen, S. (2013). Youth sexuality in the Internet age: A qualitative study of the social and sexual relationships of young people. Cologne: Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Afklärung.

    Google Scholar 

  • McNair, B. (2002). Striptease culture: Sex, media and the democratization of desire. London: Routledge.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Mitchell, K. J., Finkerhor, D., Jones, L. M., & Wolak, J. (2012). Prevalence and characteristics of youth sexting: A national study. Pediatrics, 129, 13–20.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Nikken, P., & de Graaf, H. (2013). Reciprocal relationships between friends’ and parental mediation of adolescents’ media use and their sexual attitudes and behavior. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42, 1696–1707.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Owens, E. W., Behun, R. J., Manning, J. C., & Reid, R. C. (2012). The impact of Internet pornography on adolescents: A review of the research. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 19, 99–122.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pardun, C., L’Engle, K. L., & Brown, J. (2005). Linking exposure to outcomes: Early adolescents’ consumption of sexual content in six media. Mass Communication & Society, 8, 75–91.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Peter, J., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2006). Adolescents’ exposure to sexually explicit online material and recreational attitudes toward sex. Journal of Communication, 56, 639–660.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Peter, J., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2010). Processes underlying the effects of adolescents’ use of sexually explicit Internet material: The role of perceived realism. Communication Research, 37, 375–399.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Peter, J., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2011). The influence of sexually explicit internet material on sexual risk behavior: A comparison of adolescents and adults. Journal of Health Communication: International Perspectives, 16, 750–765.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Peter, J., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2016). Adolescents and pornography: A review of 20 years of research. Journal of Sex Research, 53, 509–531.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Peterson, J. L., Moore, K. A., & Furstenberg, F. F. (1991). Television viewing and early initiation of sexual intercourse: Is there a link? Journal of Homosexuality, 21, 93–118.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Petley, J. (2015). The regulation of pornography on video-on-demand in the United Kingdom. Porn Studies, 1, 260–284.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rice, E., Rhoades, H., Winetrobe, H., Sanchez, M., Montoya, J., Plant, A., & Kordic, T. (2012). Sexually explicit cell phone messaging associated with sexual risk among adolescents. Pediatrics, 130, 667–673.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Ringrose, J., Gill, R., Livingstone, S., & Harvey, L. (2012). A qualitative study of children, young people andsexting: A report prepared for the NSPCC. London: NSPCC. Retrieved 29 February 2016 from http://www.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/documents/MPP/Sexting-Report-NSPCC.pdf.

  • Rosseel, Y. (2012). lavaan: An R package for structural equation modeling. Journal of Statistical Software, 48, 1–36.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Scull, T. M., Malik, C. V., & Kupersmidt, J. B. (2014). A media literacy education approach to teaching adolescents comprehensive sexual health education. Journal of Media Literacy Education, 6, 1–14.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Short, M. B., Black, L., Smith, A. H., Wetterneck, C. T., & Wells, D. E. (2012). A review of Internet pornography use research: Methodology and content from the past 10 years. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 15, 13–23.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sieverding, J. A., Adler, N., Witt, S., & Ellen, J. (2005). The influence of parental monitoring on adolescent sexual initiation. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 159, 724–729.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Sinković, M., Štulhofer, A., & Božić, J. (2013). Revisiting the association between pornography use and risky sexual behaviors: The role of early exposure to pornography and sexual sensation seeking. Journal of Sex Research, 50, 633–641.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Steele, J. R. (1999). Teenage sexuality and media practice: Factoring in the influences of family, friends, and school. Journal of Sex Research, 36, 331–341.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Štulhofer, A., Buško, V., & Landripet, I. (2010). Pornography, sexual socialization, and satisfaction among young men. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39, 168–178.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Štulhofer, A., Graham, C., Božičević, I., Kufrin, K., & Ajduković, D. (2009). An assessment of HIV/STI vulnerability and related sexual risk-taking in a nationally representative sample of young Croatian adults. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 209–225.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Sun, C., Bridges, A., Johnson, J. A., & Ezzell, M. B. (2016). Pornography and the male sexual script: An analysis of consumption and sexual relations. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 45, 983–984.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Temple, J. R., & Choi, H. (2014). Longitudinal association between teen sexting and sexual behavior. Pediatrics, 134, e1287–e1292. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2014-1974.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Temple, J. R., Le, V. D., van den Berg, P., Ling, Y., Paul, J. A., & Temple, B. W. (2014). Brief report: Teen sexting and psychosocial health. Journal of Adolescence, 37, 33–36.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Valkenburg, P. M., & Peter, J. (2013). The differential susceptibility to media effects model. Journal of Communication, 63, 221–243.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Van de Bongardt, D., de Graaf, H., Reitz, E., & Deković, M. (2014). Parents as moderators of longitudinal associations between sexual peer norms and Dutch adolescent’s sexual initiation and intention. Journal of Adolescent Health, 55, 388–393.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Van de Bongardt, D., Reitz, E., & Deković, M. (2016). Indirect over-time relations between parenting and adolescents’ sexual behaviors and emotions through global self-esteem. Journal of Sex Research, 53, 273–285.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Van Ouytsel, J., Ponnet, K., & Walrave, M. (2014a). The associations between adolescents’ consumption of pornography and music videos and their sexting behavior. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17, 772–778.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Van Ouytsel, J., Walrave, M., & Van Gool, E. (2014b). Sexting: Between thrill and fear—How schools can respond. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 87, 204–212.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vandenbosch, L., & Eggermont, S. (2013). Sexually explicit websites and sexual initiation: Reciprocal relationship and the moderating role of pubertal status. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 23, 621–634.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Walrave, M., Heirman, W., & Hallam, L. (2014). Under pressure to sext? Applying the theory of planned behaviour to adolescent sexting. Behaviour and Information Technology, 33, 86–98.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wang, B., Stanton, B., Deveaux, L., Li, Y., & Lunn, S. (2015). Dynamic relationships between parental monitoring, peer risk involvement and sexual risk behavior among Bahamian mid-adolescents. International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 41, 89–98.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Whitaker, D. J., & Miller, K. S. (2000). Parent-adolescent discussions about sex and condoms impact on peer influences of sexual risk behavior. Journal of Adolescent Research, 15, 251–273.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • White, H. (1982). Maximum likelihood estimation of misspecified models. Econometrica, 50, 1–25.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wight, D., Williamson, L., & Henderson, M. (2006). Parental influences on young people’s sexual behavior: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Adolescence, 29, 473–494.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Wright, P. J. (2011). Mass media effects on youth sexual behavior: Assessing the claim for causality. Communication Yearbook, 35, 343–386.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wright, P. J. (2013). U.S. males and pornography, 1973–2010: Consumption, predictors, correlates. Journal of Sex Research, 50, 60–71.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Wright, P. J., & Donnerstein, E. (2014). Sex online: Pornography, sexual solicitation, and sexting. Adolescent Medicine: State of the Art Reviews, 25, 574–589.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wright, P. J., Tokunaga, R. S., & Kraus, A. (2015). A meta-analysis of pornography consumption and actual acts of sexual aggression in general population studies. Journal of Communication, 66, 183–205.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ybarra, M. L., Mitchell, K. J., Hamburger, M., Diener-West, M., & Leaf, P. J. (2011). X-rated material and perpetration of sexually aggressive behavior among children and adolescents: Is there a link? Aggressive Behavior, 37, 1–18.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Zaleski, E. H., & Schiaffino, K. M. (2000). Religiosity and sexual risk-taking behavior during the transition to college. Journal of Adolescence, 23, 223–227.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgement

This work has been fully funded by Croatian Science Foundation (Grant No. 9221).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ivan Tomić.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Additional information

The original version of this article was revised. The versions of Figures 2–4 presented in the original version of this article were incomplete. In all three figures, structural paths were omitted. The article has been updated to provide the correct figures.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Tomić, I., Burić, J. & Štulhofer, A. Associations Between Croatian Adolescents’ Use of Sexually Explicit Material and Sexual Behavior: Does Parental Monitoring Play a Role?. Arch Sex Behav 47, 1881–1893 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-017-1097-z

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-017-1097-z

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Sexually explicit material
  • Parental monitoring
  • Sexual experience
  • Sexting
  • Sexual aggressiveness