Adolescents’ Exposure to Sexually Explicit Online Material and Recreational Attitudes Toward Sex


Jochen Peter; e-mail:


Previous research has largely ignored the implications of adolescents’ exposure to sexually explicit online material for their sexual attitude formation. To study whether adolescents’ exposure to sexually explicit material on the Internet is related to recreational attitudes toward sex, we conducted an online survey among 471 Dutch adolescents aged 13–18. In line with an orientation 1 – stimulus – orientation 2 – response (O1-S-O2-R) model, we found a pattern of multiple mediated relationships. Male adolescents (O1) used sexually explicit online material (S) more than female adolescents, which led to a greater perceived realism of such material (O2). Perceived realism (O2), in turn, mediated the relationship between exposure to sexually explicit online material (S) and recreational attitudes toward sex (R). Exposure to sexually explicit online material, then, is related to more recreational attitudes toward sex, but this relationship is influenced by adolescents’ gender and mediated by the extent to which they perceive online sexual material as realistic.