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Young People's Perceptions of Harm in Accessing Online Sexual Content

04.11.2022 09:29 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Special issue of New Media & Society

Deadline: February 15, 2023

Discussions about young people’s access or experiences with online pornography underpin most discussions and concerns about their experiences online more broadly. There is usually consensus among public, policy, and academic pundits that experiences with online/mediated sexual content are or can be potentially harmful for young people (Tsaliki, 2016). For instance, recent media outlets monitor the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office and call for a ‘cracking down’ of regulatory activity for online pornography sites, which will force them to prove they are preventing children’s access to their content (Solon, 02/09/2022). This pressure rejuvenates similar calls invoked by the 2017 Digital Economy Act--which required online pornographic sites to implement strict access rules to people under 18-years old--and the Online Harms White Paper that was put in force to cover the Act’s gap concerning sexual content on social media (Thurman & Obster, 2021).

Effects-laden approaches assuming online pornography’s effects on young people dominate the debates around children’s sexuality more broadly and online pornography specifically, while approaches drawing from cultural studies and porn studies contextualise young people’s negotiations with online pornography in historical, cultural, and social terms. Growing academic research is putting play and consent in the research and sex education agendas (McKee et al, 2020) and also using porn literacy as an analytical framework to understand how young people transform their experiences and their knowledge of the conventions of the genre into a discourse about sexuality (Buckingham & Chronaki, 2014). Discussions about sexting (Albury, 2016), pornography’s position in sex education (Goldstein, 2019), and porn literacy education are being shaped more systematically and are informing current debates.

A key term in almost all debates about young people’s experiences with online pornography is ‘harm’ and the ways in which it is interpreted, negotiated, discussed, and unpacked by young people themselves. This special issue will address young people’s perceptions and interpretations of the notion of harm in experiences with online sexual content. Papers should address, but are not limited to, the following questions:

  • How do young people unpack the notion of harm when talking about online pornography?
  • How do young people who acknowledge a degree of harm in their own experiences with online pornography talk about it?
  • To what extent is harm working as an umbrella concept including negotiations about representation, consumption, intimacy, consent, or rights?
  • How do young people account for online pornography in the broader context of sex education and porn literacy?
  • How is the notion of harm in young people’s experiences with online pornography conceptualised in different cultural contexts and the current historical moment?
  • What are the methodological and ethical challenges in researching young people’s experiences with online sexual content?

Abstract submission:

Please submit abstracts of maximum 500 words to Despina Chronaki ( Abstracts should include information about the epistemological stance of your research, a short methodological note, and prospective findings. Submission deadline is no later than 15 February 2023. Full papers will be due 30 October 2023.

Guest editors:

Dr Despina Chronaki, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece,

Associate Professor Debra Dudek, School of Arts and Humanities, Edith Cowan University, Australia,

Giselle Woodley, School of Arts and Humanities, Edith Cowan University, Australia,



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