Young children have "easy access" to online porn, inquiry findsTuesday, April 24th, 2012
Many children are, “easily accessing online pornography,” and are suffering as a result, a British cross-party parliamentary inquiry has found.
According to the inquiry, children’s attitudes to sex, relationships and body image are all being negatively affected by seeing internet pornography. Studies noted in the inquiry’s report suggested that four out of five children aged 14-16 regularly access online pornography at home.
The report called for the Government to consider an, “opt-in,” filtering system for all internet accounts in the UK, which would mean consumers would have to choose to receive adult content.
Conservative MP Claire Perry, who chaired the inquiry, said its results were, “hugely worrying,” the Daily Mail reports. She commented that while, “parents should be responsible for their children’s online safety,” people find it difficult to put filters on the many internet-enabled devices in their homes. Miss Perry commented that it was time internet service providers took on, “more of the responsibility to keep children safe.”
The inquiry noted, “Almost six out of ten children can access the internet without filters in their homes.” It said that parents, “lack internet safety education and up-to-date information.”
It also commented that while government regulation of the internet should, “always be done with the lightest touch,” it should prepare backup regulations if the internet industry fails to do enough.
Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph reports that Prime Minister David Cameron is to consider giving cinema-style age ratings to sexually explicit music videos by stars such as Rihanna and Lady Gaga to protect children. Under the proposals, websites hosting explicit music videos would be forced to introduce age-verification systems similar to those used on gambling websites.
The Prime Minister is understood to be, “disappointed,” with the music video industry’s response to a government-backed report into child sexualisation last year.
Reg Bailey, the man behind last year’s report, said, “Many of the industries mentioned in last year’s report responded positively to our recommendations. I cannot say that has been the case with music videos.
“Age ratings should be introduced for music videos. There is also a clear case for age-verification for such sites.”
Mr Cameron will meet leading figures from the music video and social media world at Downing Street next month. And while he hopes they will take action to protect children voluntarily, he is prepared to introduce new laws if necessary.
Dr Pam Spurr, a behavioural expert, said, “Adolescence is a time when young people can be hugely influenced by popular culture and as a society we have a duty to protect them from this negative way of behaving.
“If they are constantly seeing gorgeous women gyrating in outfits suitable for lap-dancing clubs, this becomes the norm. It is what they think they should be like.”
She added, “We must make it clear that they should not be exposed to this content until they’re at an age where they have the confidence to filter out the negative and damaging messages.”
Earlier this year Dame Joan Bakewell criticised the “over-sexualisation” of pop stars like Lady Gaga. Commenting on the explosion of raunchy music videos, Dame Joan, a veteran broadcaster who fronted a series of shows pushing sexual boundaries, said, “I find it absolutely extraordinary.
“I’m not prudish. I mean, the shock of everyone’s bits hanging out isn’t in itself distressing, but it’s so over-sexualised.”
Last year, former pop star Gary Barlow warned that music videos are too sexual, and said that he has had to shield his young children from sexualised pop images.
by Tom O'Gorman