UnNews:Porn and kids:How young is too young?
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1 July 2011
SAN FERNANDO VALLEY, California -- I was visiting my nephew again. Within seconds of seeing me fiddle with my iPhone, my nephew, little Billy, who is 7, asked me if my iPhone had any pornographic content on it.
"Uh, no, sorry Billy," was my reply, letting a huge white lie skip through my teeth. I knew his mother and father might be none too pleased to see the two of us hunched over the tiny screen watching "Star Whores Arcade" or "Lego Oral Orgy," or even, god-forbid, a Ron Jeremy flick.
What his parents are doing is difficult. They've chosen to keep Little Billy porno-free for as long as possible.
Of course Little Billy has gotten a taste of x-rated clips. He gets to play with himself on special occasions, and will probably play at friends' houses where the rules are different.
I suspect his parents will persist until they can't hold out any longer, until peer pressure from schoolmates, combined with the reality that kids of Little Billy's generation will be inexorably bound to sexual promiscuity like none before them, forces them to relent.
Perhaps it's a lost cause. Still, key questions can be raised here, and they are good ones to consider. Mainly, what is the appropriate age to let kids loose in the digital porn landscape? Are porn sites okay for 8-year-olds? Seven-year-olds? Six? How young is too young?
Some smut films are appropriate for certain age groups and some aren't; obviously, no one is allowing their 5-year-old to watch "Granny Incest Mania" (mostly, no one).
I'm no expert, but I've been reading up on some of the research. For one, the trend is that each year, younger and younger kids are experiencing digital sex.
This article references a study saying that since 2005, "the average age that U.S. youngsters started watching smut had fallen from just over 8 to just over 6 1/2."
Educational psychologist and author Jane Healy recently wrote: "My position is that children are better off without computers before the age of 4. By age 4, their brains have undergone a great deal of confusion and the basics should be all jumbled up in there. They can start to expand the type of thinking they can do so they can actually start using good stimulation programs."
To my mind, the issue goes beyond the debatable ill effects of video sex -- which is debunked in this op-ed, suggesting that video smut can be a good thing. For instance, teaching babies how to breast feed.
To me, the issue isn't about fears that perverted games instill sexual perversion, but rather that porno sites are usurping the power of more conventional shows, such as The Barney Show. There may be merits to shielding boys and girls like Billy from their digital futures, at least temporarily, if kids can first learn to amuse themselves without automatically reaching for a porno clip.
The fire truck, the Bee Bee gun, the pin ball, the sandbox, the board game, the wad of paper, and old Playboy copies: All can be as erotic and sexual as anything a porno studio can cook up. Perhaps this is the rule of thumb: Once a love of non-virtual sex play is instilled in young minds and habits, then let kids run free through the wild world of sleaze.
Obviously there are no definitive answers. Anyone over the age of 3 can easily disable a parental web filter. These are questions that have been discussed on Hustler.com before. But I hope news articles can continue to provide excellent guidance to discuss this hot issue.
And next time I see my nephew, little Billy, I'll have a better idea of how to counter his whining -- sweet whining, but whining nonetheless.