The makers of Pornography sites are targeting children more than ever before. There are countless examples of children downloading innocent Apps and finding Adult orientated sites pop up on their device. Children may never actively seek this content themselves, instead stumble upon it through misdirected links etc. Studies have shown that on average children are being exposed to Pornography at the age of 11. We are exceptionally confident that this age will reduce dramatically as children are getting unrestricted access to digital devices at a younger and younger age.
The largest consumers of pornography are reportedly males, between 12 to 17 years of age. We are also seeing a spike in the numbers of young girls that are also beginning to view Pornography. Why are young girls viewing Pornography, you may ask. The answer is one which would cause upset to many a parent. They view it because young female teens believe that they have to emulate the behaviour of female in Pornographic online content. This is now what young males expect and believe is normal realistic sexual engagement. Pornography Addiction is real and it is becoming more prevalent than you might imagine.
One of the agencies that we work with are currently engaged in delivering Pornography addiction counselling to 11 to 14-year-old Irish school children. Viewing pornography can be a very stimulating experience for a child. The dangers are that they are viewing content which they have no real life experience of. This can create very unrealistic relationship expectations. It can also lead to sexual violence with future partners. The problem also arises that the initial type of pornography that was viewed may no longer satisfy and lead a person to seek out more graphic and violent types of pornography.
It is a sad reality that pornography is freely available, without any age verification on 97% of online sites. Only a very few sites require any form of age verification. More troubling is that the pornography industry are heavily investing in the new Virtual Reality technology. All that is needed to enter this Virtual World of Porn is a means to view it. Google Cardboard viewers can be purchased for as little as €19.99. Some large Irish stores sell the items for under €10.
Some Advice for Parents
- If you begin to notice pop ups on your own device, this may be as a result of a child previously accessing pornography on the device
- You may see unexpected charges to your credit or debit card. This may mean that the child purchased access to a pornography site
- The child may be displaying more advanced knowledge and interest than they than they should for their age in sexual matters
- A child may be looking at or doing something that they shouldn’t online if they immediately switch screens when you come near
- Parents should always watch their children’s online activity. Start by checking the Internet History to see the sites that the child has visited. If Internet history is being deleted there needs to be a repercussion. This is the second occasion where we will tell a parent to remove a device. A child is not entitled to privacy on digital devices or on Apps or Social Media, before you are confident that they are mature enough to have developed a resilience to deal with, and avoid harmful content. A parent must be aware at all times of what content is being accessed by their children
- Talk to you child ask them if they have seen or unintentionally been exposed to pornography
- Discuss what they have seen, do they understand the content, that it may not be how people behave in the real world
- Never blame the child, if you do the child may be unwilling to be honest with you in the future. You need an open line of communication with the child. A child should always feel comfortable enough to be able to approach a parent and discuss their online experiences with them. Silence empowers all the darker side of what the online world has to offer. Good open, honest communication between a child and a parent removes this
- It is important to encourage positive behaviour in a relationship. Parents should explain what a healthy relationship consists of. Discourage the unrealistic expectations that can form as a result of exposure to pornography
- It is very important to commence the discussion about sexual content online as early as possible. Discussion does not mean educate. Children will be exposed to this content. They need the cognitive comprehension to tell the difference between fact and fiction
- Consent is also an area which should be addressed at an early age. What behaviours are acceptable and which ones are not. It is very important to help children that NO means NO