Best Practice

Pornography and other online safety issues

The impact that exposure to pornography has on the lives of young people is becoming alarmingly clear – and it is increasingly becoming an issue for primary-age pupils. Stephanie Enson explores the problems and discusses preventative strategies

In today’s digital world we are increasingly witnessing younger aged children being inadvertently exposed to highly sexualised, overtly harmful imagery and information while online.

With 24-hour availability and no watershed, almost 90 per cent of 8 to 17-year-olds now have easy access to the internet (Enson, 2017). It is suggested that the internet acts as a kind of “super peer”, replacing messages from parents or educators and gaining credibility in the minds of young people by assuming an authority of “coolness” (Papadopoulos, 2010).

While offering children and young people a portal to access information and get answers to questions they may feel uncomfortable about asking parents, teachers or supporting adults, the internet can correspondingly expose them to sexualised imagery and messages that they are developmentally not yet ready to receive – having consequentially detrimental effects on their psyche.

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