Writer and broadcaster Bel Mooney says there is nothing new about children being fascinated by sex, and that sexual inquisitiveness is a natural part of growing up. But today, see believes, the innocence has been stripped away and it’s become something far more sinister. She does, however, believe there is a solution to stop sexual bullying. This is from the Daily Mail…
What modern child can possibly retain the old, natural curiosity about sex in this era of explicit pornography on-tap? It was always a process of private discovery, but what is left for children to find out, when some have viewed online porn by the age of six?
Playing ‘mummies and daddies’ is a billion miles away from watching women crying and gagging as they are gang-raped. Increasingly, online pornography available at one click is violent, even brutal. This stuff is vile, ugly and degrading. Some argue nothing should be allowed to interfere with online porn, because one of the signs of an enlightened society is a contempt for censorship. Even if the price is paid by young minds so corrupted they have no idea how to conduct real relationships with the opposite sex. Truly, I despair.
But while internet porn is partly to blame, don’t we also have to ask what parents are doing about it? After all, who is putting the phones – the main tool that enables this to happen – into young hands?
It may seem incredible that any sensible parent would buy a six-year-old an expensive smartphone, yet they do. Lots of them. Parents who spend money on smartphones (saying the games are educational) insist they restrict their use. But how? Children are so media-savvy it must be impossible to know what sites they’re accessing.
My advice would be not to indulge them. Porn aside, child psychologists are worried about the effect of ‘screen time’ – televisions, computers and phones – because of its negative effect on developing brains and the way it impacts on a child’s ability to socialise and think.
Yet a 2012 Ofcom report revealed that 28 per cent of children between five and 15 had a smartphone. It was based on a sample of 717 children, 190 of whom were aged between three and four.
Since 2011 there has been a 50 per cent rise in 12 to 15-year-olds using smartphones; two-thirds of the age group has one – which is more than the UK average for adults (45 per cent).
Children use their phones to get online and insist that this is the device they would miss the most.
Might this have something to do with the fact that the smartphone is the most difficult for parents to police? If your seven-year-old is at a sleepover, or your 12-year-old in the park with friends – who knows what they are watching online? Or what pictures they are taking themselves?
If government is sluggish and opinion-formers wilfully blind to the evils of porn, then it’s time for parents and teachers to mobilise to fight ‘raunch culture’ which treats women as sexual objects, and encourages children to mimic the worst behaviour.
For a start, I have no idea why any child should need to have a mobile phone (smart or not) while in school. All phones should be handed in at morning registration and collected at the end of the day.
Children have no business texting, let alone accessing the internet privately, in school hours.
An American survey found that 66 per cent of parents believe kids shouldn’t have smartphones until the age of 16. Quite right, too. Parents need to toughen up against pester power and also make themselves as media-savvy as their children, in order to be able to have proper conversations about this issue.
They need to understand that if our children and teenagers continue to be allowed to have their notions of human relationships and sexuality fatally skewed by what they see online, the implications for the future are terrifying.
Already, teenage boys expect sexual behaviour from very young girls which we would associate with prostitution. How can young people accustomed to behaving in this way form mature relationships in which to raise children?
I’m sorry, but parents need to read these shocking school statistics and accept some responsibility for the way their children behave. Don’t give your children a smartphone because they say their friends have them.
They must learn to say ‘No’. And that way help the next generation understand that real women are strong and know how to say ‘No’ too.