Porn a 'fact of life' for Kiwi children with ready access to sexual content, study finds

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A quarter of all children under the age of 12 living in New Zealand have seen pornography, which these days is "as close as the nearest phone", a report has revealed.

The Chief Censor's NZ Youth and Porn study, released on Wednesday, said two-thirds of those aged between 14 and 17 had been exposed to pornography, and almost half of regular viewers could not stop watching despite wanting to.

Regular viewers, young people who viewed porn either monthly, weekly or daily, made up 15 per cent of which 21 were boys and 9 per cent girls.

Research is telling us pornography is shaping children's attitudes towards sex and leading to increased child on child assault.
ISTOCK/SUPPLIED
Research is telling us pornography is shaping children's attitudes towards sex and leading to increased child on child assault.

Of those youths 73 per cent used porn as a "learning tool", which they said had both a positive and negative impacts on them.

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"On a positive note, porn exposes you to different genres of sex and diversity within roles, but a negative is that people can get exposed to a unrealistic standard of sex," a 17-year-old girl said in the report.

Young people are exposed to "violent, aggressive, misogynistic and coercive behaviour". The majority want restrictions placed on the online content.
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Young people are exposed to "violent, aggressive, misogynistic and coercive behaviour". The majority want restrictions placed on the online content.

The report found, children were exposed to "violent, aggressive, misogynistic and coercive behaviour" and the majority wanted restrictions placed on the online content.

"They think that's what females are into. All the hardcore porn, they think it's normal. And if you don't do it then it's all then, 'you're a prude'," another girl said.

The study is an in-depth view of how pornography has influenced Kiwi children and why they were accessing the content.

The Chief Censor's NZ Youth and Porn study, released on Wednesday, said two-thirds of 14 to 17-year-olds had been exposed to pornography.
SUPPLIED
The Chief Censor's NZ Youth and Porn study, released on Wednesday, said two-thirds of 14 to 17-year-olds had been exposed to pornography.

Young people who had seen pornography on a monthly basis made up 15 per cent of respondents and up to 8 per cent had watched it on a weekly or daily basis – the majority of them being boys.

Regular porn viewers started young, the report said. One in five young viewers had tried something they saw.

Chief Censor David Shanks said technology had shifted "everything we knew, or thought we knew, about porn and young people".

The main reasons young people accessed porn was curiosity and stumbling across it by accident. Other influences included entertainment, arousal, and boredom.

The mostly accessed sexual content was on mobile and smartphones.

"Access to online pornography is easy, particularly if a young person owns a mobile phone. Traditional restrictions do not exist in the online space," Shanks said.

"The amount of time young people spend looking at porn is relatively low compared to the time young people spend online."

There were 33 per cent of young people who had watched porn for more than half an hour. More than 85 per cent thought watching porn was common for boys but less than half felt the same way about girls.

Young people felt they should have more access to information on sex in schools.

The next step was to consider regulation, offer support through tools and information, education and further research.

 

TIPS ON TALKING TO YOUR TEEN

START THE CONVERSATION

- Ask your teenager about their favourite TV/online shows, or their favourite YouTube channels.

- Ask about something you've both watched. Look for things which feature complex characters, and deal with serious/controversial issues.

- Ask what they like about how a movie represents different issues and characters, or if they think a movie is realistic.

TALKING ABOUT SENSITIVE CONTENT

- Ask what your teen knows about the issues raised, and what they think about how things are shown on-screen.

- Talk about respectful relationships and consent.

- Remind your teen that what they see in media doesn't always reflect reality, and talk them through anything which upsets them.

- Don't take away your teen's devices in an attempt to protect them, they may feel punished and less likely to ask for help in future.

- Share your own experience of how media has affected you.

SAFER MEDIA USE

- Praise your teen for doing the right thing.

- Parental controls/filters can be useful for children or young teens, but they're only a partial solution. As you build trust about their media use you may no longer feel these controls are necessary.

- Monitoring media use can be helpful, but only if you're open about it - no spying. Spying encourages secretive behaviour and sends wrong messages about privacy.

* Source: The Office of Film and Literature Classification

* The report is available online at classificationoffice.govt.nz.

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