Exposure of children to pornography

Our internet focused societies are increasingly targeting children in pushing them into a culture of porn.

WYA has been participating in the Conference on Exposure of Children to Pornography in the EU, which demonstrated the negative influence that porn has on society, especially targeting children, youth, and family. Concern was expressed regarding the new proposal of the Commission on the revision of the EU Audio-visual Media Services Directive, which regulates TVs, On-Demand services (e.g. Netflix) and video sharing platforms (e.g. YouTube).

The current audio-visual media services directive 2010/13/eu protects minors from harmful content in television broadcasting and in particular programs that involve pornography or gratuitous violence, which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors.

However, according to the European Commission’s new proposal, TVs could broadcast these contents, as long as they are subject to encryption or parental control. To achieve this, the Commission wants to remove the word “moral” in the text of directive 2010/13/eu.

Children are increasingly at ease with technology and have easy access to audio-visual contents from multiple platforms (TVs, computers, tablets, smartphones, etc.) at any time and any place.

On average, European children start using the internet when they are 7 years old, and 75% of 15-16 years old people use the internet daily. The risk that they will be exposed to harmful content is very high. A survey demonstrated that out of children aged 11-16, more than half had been exposed to such content.

In Italy, a survey found that 67% of boys aged 14-19 and 15% of girls have watched pornographic material. In Sweden, 92% of boys and 57% of girls of 15-18 years have watched pornography[1].

So exposure of minors to pornography is widespread in Europe and the existence of handheld devices with internet access make it much harder for parents to monitor their children’s media consumption.

The protection of minors is the primary responsibility of families and educators and a matter of utmost importance for the future of the new generation. The family is the first ‘moral school’ in which children should experience dignity and respect to receive a healthy view on relationships and family.

A generation is built upon relationships and families, so the very essence of a relationship and the integrity of the family shouldn’t be put at risk by allowing the mental degrading effects of pornography.

Porn creates relationships in which people treat other people like objects that can be used instead as subjects with dignity and rights and therefore reduces our human nature, and this is particularly risky for children in which the cognitive ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality are still neurologically and psychically immature.

Dr. Emiliano Lambiase mentioned also the problem of addiction: “Porn can in a number of ways be compared to other stimulants, such as alcohol, drugs, and gambling.”

We need to protect our whole society, but especially children, from pornography. Children’s attitudes and behavior regarding relationships are negatively affected by pornography, because they children perceive a poor, often much more hardcore, deviant and violent image of sexual relationships.

Therefore, we call upon the members of the European Parliament to stand up for children and to make it clear in the audio-visual media services directive that pornography isn’t welcome near European children.

Written by Marie-Christine Alting von de Geusau intern at WYA Europe office from the Netherlands.

[1] This data was introduced by Dr Emiliano Lambiase (Clinical psychologist and Psychotherapist) during the conference.