The Reciprocal Relationship Between Frequent and Compulsive use of Sexual Explicit Internet Material & Sexual Preoccupation Among Adolescents in The Netherlands
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Exposure to Sexual Explicit Internet Material (SEIM) could have beneficial outcomes for adolescents’ sexual development. However, it might also put adolescents at risk as they may develop compulsive use of SEIM. It is furthermore argued that sexualized media environments can promote sexual preoccupation among adolescents. Because research on compulsive SEIM use and sexual preoccupation among adolescents is largely lacking, the aim of this study is to address this gap in the literature by investigating the bidirectional relation between both frequent and compulsive SEIM use, and sexual preoccupation among adolescents. It was also investigated whether these relations differed between gender and age groups. Longitudinal data from 371 Dutch adolescent students were used (Mage = 14,4 years, range 12-18). Results showed that frequent and compulsive SEIM use did not predict an increase in sexual preoccupation. However, sexual preoccupation did predict an increase in compulsive SEIM use over time, but only among boys. These findings suggest that sexual preoccupation is involved in the development of adolescents’ compulsive SEIM use, especially for boys. These results emphasize the need of open communication between parents, teachers, experts and adolescent boys about SEIM use in order to identify early signals of sexual preoccupation and compulsive SEIM use.