Starting To Watch Porn Is No Longer Confined To Teen Years, With Children Now Watching – Ten Daily

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Holly-ann Martin works with thousands of children and teenagers every year, many of whom have become so desensitised to pornography — they fail to register the people are actors who make their films for their job.

Martin has been running Safe4Kids, a program specialising in child protection, across Australian schools for over a decade.

She told 10 daily, children and teenagers are at a real risk of having their “brains rewired” from prolonged exposure to these images and moving from simply seeing to actually doing these acts.

Martin, who believes teaching kids about porn should start as young as six-year of age, said both schools and parents need to work together to ensure children and teenagers feel comfortable asking questions about sexual health.

“I think it’s a very sad place where people would rather stand in front of pixels than have that touch from a partner,” she said.

Alarmingly, experts have told 10 daily many young Australians who have admitted to watching porn, said they watched it to “learn technique”.

Martin believes the harmful long-term impacts are exacerbated by “lousy” sex education across Australian schools.

“We are not doing anything around consent or respectful relationships,” Martin said, adding that students she had spoken to told her they want to know about things like asking someone out or dealing with break-ups.

“We don’t do any of that… we just say, you’re all going to get an STI and have a baby you don’t want — and that’s not helpful.”

Dr Joanne Orlando expert and researcher in children’s technology agreed and said education can’t be left to just schools or just parents, there needed to be “multiple conversations.”

Orlando told 10 daily the recommended age for teaching children about porn is around seven, but said any discussions must be “age-appropriate”, adding that if a child sees explicit content earlier, it needs to happen earlier.

Hetty Johnstone, founder of one of the nation’s leading child protection organisations Bravehearts recently told the Gold Coast Bulletin children as young as three could be exposed to pornographic imagery on digital devices.

READ MORE: How Young Is Too Young To Teach Kids About Sexual Assault?

“The lesson to teach here is that there is that kind of content that people are seeing, but this isn’t real life sex,” Orlando told 10 daily.

“This isn’t what you should be aspiring to do.”

She said young people’s exposure to pornographic films can have both short and long-term impacts.

“In the long-term, it  gives them particular understandings about what sex is, what men and woman like, and often what they should look like as well.”

Orlando and Martin said they had been relayed stories from parents with children as young as five, who had been caught watching porn on Youtube and other social media platforms.

“Our kids and teenagers are being inundated with pornographic material,” Orlando said

The availability of pornographic images and videos is now so widespread, a 2017 Burnet Institute study found nearly 90 percent of young Australians had viewed pornography online.

Of the young men surveyed, a staggering 100 percent said they had watched pornography at least once in their life.

Young women weren’t far behind, with 82 percent admitting to having watched pornographic content.

The study also found the median age young men had first watched pornography was 13-years, while for female participants it was 16 years-old.

Orlando pointed out that porn gives viewers particular ideas about what is “expected sex” from their partner — ideas which often revolve around aggression, male dominance, multiple partners and experimental sex.

Martin said she had spoken to 14-year-olds who had admitted to watching at least two hours of pornographic material a week.

She said because kids and teenagers have not lived in a world without constant access to technology. The world they were born into means pornographic content was available beyond traditional ‘porn websites’ and was even popping up on sites like Facebook and Snapchat.

Orlando said the unrealistic messages were also being reinforced by material that wasn’t necessarily pornographic, including gifs, memes and video games, that are available on regular sites.

Concerns come as popular social media platform Tumblr announced it would enforce a complete ban on adult content from December 17.

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Jesse Altham

Hey! My name is Jesse and I’m a 23 year old from Fremantle, WA. I’m finishing up my Diploma of Youth Work with North Metro TAFE, completing my last practical placement here with the YEP crew. I am extremely passionate about politics, advocacy and education and I’m so fortunate to be working with YEP in the space of peer education.

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