It is unlikely that a tween would seek or come across such dangerous websites purposefully, but it is unfortunately easy and common for them to stumble upon sexually explicit content. A search on popular cartoon characters or pop singers may produce links that feature adult content.
According to a study by FamilySafeMedia, the average age of first internet exposure to pornography is 11 years old. Exposure to such adult content can have many negative effects on children.
How Early Exposure to Porn Affects Your Child:
Gone are the innocent days of exposure to pornography extending to Playboy and Penthouse magazines stashed under mattresses. Now, it is all over the web, available 24/7 at the click of a button and more easily accessible than it should be. The addictive nature of exposure to and consuming of pornography affects kids more than many realize.
Anxiety & Shock- Kids exposed to sexually explicit content at a very young age tend to experience anxiety and shock. Kids do not understand what they are viewing, so the unfamiliar bodies engaging in those acts frighten them. Children also report feelings of disgust, shock, embarrassment, fear, and sadness after viewing the content (Manning, Jill, Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity, 2006).
Early Sex- According to a research by Elysia Walker and Dr. Emily Doe from the University of Buckingham, exposure to sexually explicit material at a young age increases the likelihood of sexual behavior at an earlier age. The research revealed that for respondents, the first exposure to explicit content began at 12 years old and they initiated sexual behavior around a year later.
High-Risk Sex- Frequent exposure to pornography is associated with multiple sexual partners and use of alcohol and drugs during sexual activity (Braun-Courville, D. and Rojas, M., Journal of Adolescent Health, 2009).
Sexual Violence- Children under 12 years old who have viewed pornography are statistically more likely to sexually asault their peers. A child advocacy group interviewed a group of 70 children who were sexual abuse victims and found that most of the predators were other children who were acting out the violent pornographic material they saw online. A police officer also reported a case involving a 3 years old victim with a 10 or 11 year old perpetrator.
Sexting- Pornography is also leading to the dangerous trend of “sexting” in which young girls are increasingly feeling the pressure to share naked images of themselves online (Van Ouytsel, J., Ponnett, K., and Walrave, M., 2014).
Gender Stereotypes- Most pornographic content is degrading to women and shows woman as submissive and men as aggressive. This leads to unhealthy perceptions and attitudes towards women who are “shown to enjoy sexual assault.”
Porn Addiction: Due to easy accessibility and the desensitization effect, children are increasingly getting addicted to porn. According to a survey by NSPCC ChildLine, 10% of 12-13-year-olds are worried that they are "addicted" to pornography.
Studies are unearthing many more disturbing findings and correlation between porn and psychopathology.
Block Adult Content with Parental Controls:
It’s clear that porn can have irreparable damage to children. It’s the responsibility of parents to shield their children from all sexually explicit content. Google and many other platforms allow “Safe Search” but it can be difficult to do it on each browser and device. On top of that, children are becomingly increasingly tech savvy and know ways to disable parental controls.
Become smarter – get a wifi security software that blocks all inappropriate content- the controls of which remain with the parents only. SaferNet offers a “Remove Adult Content” feature that filters out all such content with the click of a button.
Porn isn’t the only thing that is detrimentally affecting our children. According to a news report by Guardian, children are as upset by violent videos on YouTube that feature animal cruelty or real world violence. See the article linked below for more information...