A window on porn viewing by teens

The disturbing yet unsurprising findings of the NZ Youth and Porn Report out yesterday, including a clear call from our young people to restrict their access to pornography, are likely to be acted on by the Government.

Parents also need to pay heed to the results of this survey of 2300 young New Zealanders, aged 14 to 17, which include:

A quarter of Kiwi teenagers have watched porn before they turn 12, usually by accident or having it shown to them; 10 percent of teens have become regular viewers by the age of 14; 42 percent of regular viewers want to spend less time looking at porn but find that difficult; 72 percent of teens who had viewed porn recently saw things that made them uncomfortable; and 71 percent of teens want more restrictions for young people accessing pornography.

Children’s Minister Tracey Martin was already concerned about youngsters being “bombarded” with internet porn, and said she wanted online censorship laws to be strengthened when the Chief Censor began this major piece of research in August. Yesterday she welcomed the data showing the actual situation for our young people.

Martin supports the approach in the UK where there are plans to bring in age restrictions for online porn by the end of this year, and to block sites which don’t comply.

Another option is internet filtering, which already occurs New Zealand-wide in relation to child sexual abuse content. The problem with filtering is that it is prone to misclassification and overreach, and risks slowing down internet connections across the board.

Perhaps the best response of all from the Government would be much better sex education in schools, including open discussion around pornography and a big focus on respectful relationships, being safe and the importance of asking for and giving consent.

Parents should take note of the pervasiveness of porn viewing by youngsters apparent in the findings of this study. They can set filters in their own home and on their child’s mobile device, and should. And if they haven’t already, they should discuss sex and pornography with their teens — after some research on good ways to go about this.

The disturbing yet unsurprising findings of the NZ Youth and Porn Report out yesterday, including a clear call from our young people to restrict their access to pornography, are likely to be acted on by the Government.

Parents also need to pay heed to the results of this survey of 2300 young New Zealanders, aged 14 to 17, which include:

A quarter of Kiwi teenagers have watched porn before they turn 12, usually by accident or having it shown to them; 10 percent of teens have become regular viewers by the age of 14; 42 percent of regular viewers want to spend less time looking at porn but find that difficult; 72 percent of teens who had viewed porn recently saw things that made them uncomfortable; and 71 percent of teens want more restrictions for young people accessing pornography.

Children’s Minister Tracey Martin was already concerned about youngsters being “bombarded” with internet porn, and said she wanted online censorship laws to be strengthened when the Chief Censor began this major piece of research in August. Yesterday she welcomed the data showing the actual situation for our young people.

Martin supports the approach in the UK where there are plans to bring in age restrictions for online porn by the end of this year, and to block sites which don’t comply.

Another option is internet filtering, which already occurs New Zealand-wide in relation to child sexual abuse content. The problem with filtering is that it is prone to misclassification and overreach, and risks slowing down internet connections across the board.

Perhaps the best response of all from the Government would be much better sex education in schools, including open discussion around pornography and a big focus on respectful relationships, being safe and the importance of asking for and giving consent.

Parents should take note of the pervasiveness of porn viewing by youngsters apparent in the findings of this study. They can set filters in their own home and on their child’s mobile device, and should. And if they haven’t already, they should discuss sex and pornography with their teens — after some research on good ways to go about this.

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