National contexts for the risk of harm being done to children by access to online sexual content
Discourses of Anxiety over Childhood and Youth across Cultures
Palgrave Macmillan / Springer
School of Arts and Humanities / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications
This chapter explores an international comparative case study of children’s experiences of online sexual content. It suggests that the dominant ‘risk’ framework commonly used to understand these experiences is not the most useful way to construct the uses to which young people put these materials, or the role that online sexual content may play in young people’s healthy sexual development. It suggests that conceptualising ‘risk’ for young people as necessarily negative and as something to be avoided is counterproductive, and that the national and cultural context will impact the likelihood of ‘risk’. This particular example also indicates that risk itself might be positioned as something to be embraced; as a necessary part of learning personal boundaries and behaviours. It also contributes to the development of resilience, one of the key aspects of healthy sexual development.