Anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with the Internet knows that it is clogged with sexual imagery and pornography, the Nelson Mail said in an editorial on Thursday.
The most innocent of searches can easily throw up invitations to go where the user has no intention of venturing - and anyone with a wish to view pornography can do so with the greatest of ease. So it comes as no surprise to hear the claim that most young New Zealanders have seen pornography online. They are, after all, by nature curious and by aptitude and experience more adept at negotiating cyberspace than most of their parents.
Filters are available, but don't offer failsafe protection and, in any case, young people can easily gain access to the Internet from multiple places, not just the PC set up at the living room table so that the whole family knows who is looking at what.
The suggestion that most Kiwi children in their early teens have seen Internet pornography comes from the watchdog Netsafe and in the wake of a Broadcasting Standards Authority report saying that 72 percent of Kiwi six to 13-year-olds use a computer at home that can connect to the Internet. There isn't any data - yet - to prove the pornography claim, but it is easy to believe.
There is good reason to make sure that our young people are taught that sex is about more than the explicit couplings that pornographers specialise in. Now, more than ever, they need to learn about mutual desire, warmth, trust and romance. Looking at sex on the Internet will only teach them about anatomy.