In the UK, you must be 18 by law to watch pornography, and the government’s latest attempt to regulate access – the Online Safety Bill – will legally require websites that publish explicit content to check that their users are over 18.
YouGov research reveals that many young Britons who have seen porn while underage, including half of Britons aged 18-29 (50%). Only 7% of this age group were aged 18 or over the first time they say they saw it, while another 13% say they have never seen pornography (the remaining 18% either could not recall their age or declined to answer).
Similarly, four in 10 Britons in their 30s (41%) first saw pornography while underage, falling to a third of Britons in their 40s (32%), a quarter of Britons in their 50s (24%) and just 10% of those aged 60 and over.
Overall, 28% of Britons watched porn for the first time underage, while 29% were over 18, and 24% have never seen porn at all.
Four in ten men (41%) first saw porn while underage, rising to 59% of 18-29 year old men. By contrast, only 17% of women have done so.
First experiences: regular porn-watchers are more likely to have specifically searched for porn the first time they saw it
Overall, more than four in 10 Britons who have seen porn say someone else showed it to them the first time they saw it (44%). A further 22% say they saw it by accident, while 19% were specifically looking to find pornography.
Regular porn-watchers are much more likely to have specifically looked for pornography the first time they saw it: more than four in 10 (44%) Britons who watch porn every day or most days say they were specifically looking to find porn when they first viewed it. A further 23% say they saw it by accident and 22% were shown explicit material by someone else.
Conversely, people who have seen porn, but don’t watch it, are much more likely to say that their first experience watching porn was because someone else showed it to them (56%). Just 8% were specifically looking for pornography when they first saw it, and 22% say they saw it by accident.
See full results here