Let’s get a clear picture of what’s out there

Pun intended by that heading! An extraordinary number of children accidentally stumble across, do a semi-innocent curious search for, or get sent pornographic content. In fact, I can say with confidence that it is harder for children to avoid porn than to find it – yes, really!

How available is it?

Now, I don’t want to scare you but here’s some stats to start the discussion:

  • In 2017 Pornhub had 28.5 BILLION visits – that’s almost 1,000 visits a second. In 2019, that jumped to 42 billion site visits.
  • In 2018 more than 109,012,068,000 videos were watched on Pornhub and that’s over 14 videos watched for every person on the entire planet.
  • In 2019 more than 5,824,699,200 hours of porn were watched on the site which is equal to almost 665 centuries of content consumed in 1 year, on just one porn site.

(Source: Fight The New Drug)

Got your attention? Gah – it’s pretty mind blowing and those numbers grow and grow year on year – and that’s just one site!

The gradual normalising of porn

The word ‘porn’ is now applied to so many things; gardening porn, food porn – you name it, if it’s there in all its glory and accessibility the word ‘porn’ is now attached. It wasn’t that long ago actually that the word porn said at more than a whisper would have drawn some ‘tut tut’ like stares. So, the word has slipped casually into every day conversational speech and the content has slipped even more casually into every day viewing content.

There’s hardcore porn of course, but there’s also lots of soft porn on apps, in TV shows and movies. Regulatory bodies tend to scour and rate mainstream viewable content, but there’s little policing of content in many of the places our youngsters like to hang out. If you haven’t taken a little look at the apps that children have ready access to, it’s a good idea to do so. Nipples and ovaries are often the only things left to the imagination, and with repeated marination in this content, it simply becomes normalised to our children.

Adults and pornographic content

Let’s not linger long here because, essentially, it is every adult’s choice about what they consume in life – food, beverages and online content. Looking historically, with the rise of feminism in the 60’s and 70’s more women started accessing pornographic content, which for many meant freedom from the sexual oppression of women in previous generations. For those women sex was beige and usually something to please a man or to make babies, and not for pleasure, fun and exploration. So, historically it’s not all bad, but we have to remember that in that time, pornographic content was naughty pictures. Now porn is up close, moving and graphic, with violence and exploitation of women and girls a key feature. So, porn has changed massively and ALL the research (and let’s face it – common sense) tells us that regular exposure for adults and even fleeting exposure for children changes patterns of sexual knowledge, expectations, arousal and  behaviour – and that’s not OK.

Children and pornographic content

It’s going to come as no surprise at all that children’s exposure to pornographic content is all bad. Mother Nature has carefully programmed human beings to reach developmental readiness when systems are mature enough. Walking, talking, reading, skipping, jumping – you name it, the achievement of developmental milestones in childhood means that a system is now ready for that next step up in knowing and doing. Too much, too soon and we interrupt that developmental progression and often-times set a child back.

Pornographic content in childhood slams into their fragile sense of self and safety. It exposes them to concepts that they’re not ready for and the endpoint is that we WILL see it playing out in behaviour. That bit’s a given. Fact checking with friends, playing out the content, making the noises, sharing the moments – these are all ways that children try and make sense of something that stirs up feelings in their little bodies that they do not yet understand. It flows into classrooms and playgrounds and usually ends up in tears.

So, the longshot – children and porn should never go together – ever.

Managing exposure

That’s an entire topic to itself, so please come back and have a read of Part 2 where we’ll cover what steps can be taken to reduce the harm and manage the inevitable fallout of exposure to pornography. Needless to say, in one way or another, most children will be exposed to pornographic content by the time they leave primary school. Even hearing about it from a friend is more than enough to tip some children over the edge into not coping. It is on all of us – all responsible adults to take better care of our young ones online. That means governments and legislators, systems and networks, communities, schools and families. It’s a big job and awareness, safeguarding practices and education are our key defence factors.

DiGii Social helps children and their families to learn the skills of being safe, civil and savvy online in their formative pre-teen years. It uses exceptional technology to provide children with a safe sandbox environment to do their messy learning in, gently guided by our virtual teacher. If you’d like to find out more about getting DiGii Social into your school, contact us HERE.