How do Young People Make Sense of Sexually Explicit Internet Material?


Researcher Introduction

My name is Robyn Vertongen, I am a Doctoral student and staff member at Massey University, School of Psychology.  I am a Registered Clinical Psychologist who has practiced for the past 20 years. During this time, I have seen increased concerns about sexually explicit internet material (SEIM), often referred to as pornography, that enters into young peoples’ lives. However, what this all means for young people is hotly debated and taken from adult viewpoints rather than asking young people.  As a parent of three young people, I am very aware that this has increasingly become part of life that can’t be avoided but rather needs to be navigated.   

What is the study about?

The project aim is to provide a voice to you, as our young people, about SEIM rather than relying only on adult opinions. What you have to say is important. I am interested in hearing from ten young people, between the age of 14 and 16 years, to learn how you have come across SEIM, your experience with this and what it means to you. 

What do I have to do?

Should you wish to get involved in the study you will be asked to talk about your experiences with SEIM and what it means to you.  You will talk directly with Robyn in a suitable private place within a public location in the Auckland area or in rooms at the Massey University Centre for Psychology in Albany.  The interview will take about 1 hour and will be audio-recorded to accurately capture the information.  A second interview will take place usually within two weeks.  It will provide you a chance to discuss any insights, concerns and/or change information.  This interview should be briefer than the first interview.  If you don’t want to go ahead with the two interviews you don’t need to do anything more.  If you decide you want to share your experiences then I need you to pass an information sheet and consent form to your parent or caregiver so they know you have volunteered to participate.  This does not mean your information will be shared with them.  It just means they know you are taking part and may need help with transport.  A Westfield gift voucher of $25 will be provided at the end of each interview to compensate you for your time and travel.

What happens to the information?

All information you share is kept safe at all times.  No one else has access to this information and it will be password protected. When the project is finished, a summary report will be provided to you.  Your identity will be protected and no names used.  Audio recordings will be destroyed at the end of the project and written non-identifiable information will be kept safe and destroyed at the end of 10 years.

My Rights

If you decide to take part you have the right to

  • Not answer questions or stop the interview;
  • Withdraw from the study at any time within one month of finishing the second interview;
  • Choose what to share and how much;
  • Ask as many questions about the study as needed;
  • Provide information knowing  your name will not be used;
  • Be given a summary of the things I find out when finished;
  • Ask for the recorder to be turned off at any time during the interview

Your information will not be shared with your parents/ caregivers.  However, if you tell me you want to hurt yourself or someone else, or if someone is hurting you then I have a duty of care to find a trusted adult in your life to help keep you safe.

What happens if I have other questions?

All questions are good so feel free to ask myself if you have any questions.  This does not mean you are agreeing to take part but may help you decide.

Making Contact

If you would like more information or have any questions you are welcome to contact the researcher Robyn Vertongen, at (09) 414 0800 ext 43112

And/or the supervisors
Clifford Van Ommen            4140800 ext 43114
Kerry Chamberlain            4140800 ext 43107

Additional Support

If reading or discussing this information has brought up any concerns for you the following contacts may be useful:

0800 376 633 Free TXT 234 or email
24 hours, teens helping teens

 0800 942 8787
Trained counsellors, phone line or online chat for youth, 1pm to 10pm Monday to Friday and 3pm to 10pm Saturday and Sunday

Lifeline Helpline
0800 543 354
24 hours 7 days a week counselling

0508 638 723  
Helps people keep safe online by providing education, advice and support.

Committee Approval Statement

This project has been reviewed and approved by the Massey University Human Ethics Committee: Northern, Application NOR 17/44. 
If you have any concerns about the conduct of this research, please contact Dr Ralph Bathurst, Acting Chair, Massey University Human Ethics Committee: Northern, email