Smartphones and Porn: Is Technology Creating a Generation of Addicts?

ARTICLE SUMMARY:
The internet is notorious for its high saturation of adult content, but while you can control what your kids see on a home PC to a certain degree, will endowing them with a smartphone lead to a generation of porn addicts? In turn, would this lead to the death of innocence?

Ease of Access

Any device that has internet access can be used to browse the hundreds of millions of websites which are available online and in its unmitigated state there is little doubt that some of the most troubling content in the world is just a simple web search away.

While putting parental controls on the family PC is relatively simple and positioning it in such a place that makes it tough for kids to surf unsupervised is easy, many parents are simply unaware of the litany of other gadgets that can be used to go online.

Smartphones are just the tip of the iceberg, because gadgets such as tablets, games consoles, eBook readers and portable media players now come with integrated Wi-Fi or 3G connectivity, allowing kids to get out of the house and gain access to unsuitable content.

You may not even realise that your kids have a gadget that can be used to browse the internet, but even the most basic mobile will usually feature such capabilities.

Addiction

Various scientific studies have examined the ways in which web access and the consumption of pornography are having an impact on children and teenagers today.

Addiction counsellor Jeff Shultz told KTAR.com that a combination of uninhibited access and complete anonymity was making youngsters far more familiar with online porn. According to a recent report, 58 per cent of those aged between 14 and 17 said that they utilised a mobile device to view lewd images.

It seems that the gender divide is of little consequence in these circumstances, with boys and girls in their teens both likely to have harnessed a mobile device to look at pornography of some kind. Those who do not actively seek it will have a difficult time actually avoiding it, as a study from the London School of Economics found that 33 per cent of those under the age of 18 had been sent some kind of pornographic content via SMS message or e-mail.

Consequences

Of course, it is easy to dismiss under-age viewing of pornography via mobile devices as unavoidable and a fundamental part of growing up that is ultimately harmless. Before mobile phones, teenagers had pornographic magazines and secretly shared VHS videos. Going back further still there are suggestive etchings on cave walls, accompanied by a seemingly unending history of human sexuality.

However, there is certainly cause for concern when such unhindered immediacy is given to the kind of illicit and explicit content that will be accessed repeatedly throughout the formative years of a young person’s life. The problem here is that kids are learning about sex through internet porn, not just through conversations with friends or real-life experiences.

The nature of internet porn, which typically shows women as being subservient and reinforces the dominant stereotype of males, is seen as being damaging to young minds, which might process this and go on to see it as representative of human sexuality as a whole.

Parental Responses

There are a number of things that parents can do to make sure that their children are unable to access internet pornography, because parental controls are becoming more common on smartphones and you can make adjustments to your home internet connection to block inappropriate content.

Of course, the problem here is that kids will usually be more tech savvy than their parents, so looking around for SIM only contracts that let them bypass the need to use a home connection will get them the access that you would otherwise prohibit.

The best defence against the potentially damaging nature of internet pornography in the smartphone age is communication. Parents cannot afford to be squeamish or obtuse in their discussion of sexuality with their children, since if you ignore the issue and fail to give them the right advice, they might base their assumptions on the pornography that they will inevitably see at some point.

Talking to your kids and establishing that the sex they see online is not representative or necessarily healthy in the real world will prepare them for life far better than shutting your eyes and ears to the issue or trying to completely lock down mobile devices or home PCs. Because as with all things, if a parent or authority figure bans it, it becomes all the more mysterious and appealing to kids.

In short, discretion is the better part of valour for parents in the modern, mobile world.

AUTHOR BIO:
Shannen Doherty  is a technology enthusiast and cultural commentator who regularly lends her writing skills to websites on blogs across a variety of topics, including smartphones, the web and how society is impacted by changing trends. She advises that people looking around for SIM only contracts to give their kids should consider the type of use they will get out of them to ensure their safety.