Warn very young children about online porn, say school heads. Do you agree?

(67 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 20-May-13 10:46:41

Hello. We've seen in the news today that the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) is saying that young children should hear about the dangers of pornography as soon as they have access to the internet.

Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the NAHT, says, "as soon as children are getting access, it's time to begin the conversation", given the ready availability of explicit material online.

The NAHT says this issue is increasingly troubling to teachers and heads as they grapple with the impact of pornography on pupils' self-image and their perceptions of sexuality. And they think children should receive appropriate guidance as part of schools' relationship and sex education.

They also say that, according to a survey (of 1000-odd parents) that they commissioned, 83% of parents feel children should learn about the dangers of pornography in sex education lessons - and nearly half (four out of ten) think this should happen in the early primary-school years.

What do you think?

Should children be taught in school about the dangers of pornography on the internet? And if so, at what age? Do you think it's right to have your primary-school-aged child learning about such things?

Please do post your thoughts here.

Tee2072 Mon 20-May-13 11:07:34

As soon as they access the internet? My 4 year old uses the internet.

With me, granted, but he uses it. It's hardly something that starts in primary school these days.

No, I don't think it should be part of sex ed. Or are they going to talk about all porn? Magazines are right there on the shelves, despite MN's campaign. Movies are just as available with TV's that connect to thing like LoveFilm streaming and adult versions of same.

Parents should be speaking about it their children when they think their child needs to know. Or when the child asks a question.

No I don't because by talking about it you expose them to concepts they don't need to know about at such a young age. My 3 year old goes on CBeebies online, there is no way I would have that conversation with her.

Primary schools and parents should have strict parental/age controls on their Computers and be constantly monitoring what the child is doing.

In a classroom teachers should be scanning screens whilst helping children with their ICT tasks to ensure children are doing what they should be and not accessing sites that they shouldn't be on.

Parents should have the PC in the main living areas and not in bedrooms where they can't supervise.

JoyMachine Mon 20-May-13 11:23:27

This is rather like saying we should warn toddlers about DHLaurence and Clockwork Orange as soon as we teach them phonics, or we should warn them about Francis Bacon and Hieronymous Bosch as soon as we pass them the crayons.

Very small children should never be having unsupervised internet access anyway, so pretty ridiculous IMO.

Moxiegirl Mon 20-May-13 11:37:47

I think the words 'online porn' and our young children don't seem appropriate in the same sentence- but I would imagine age sensitive language would be used I.e teaching safety on the Internet and what to do if something scary or rude appears when using it.
Obviously Internet access should be supervised and relevant parental settings in place but things can slip through and I think it's worth preparing then in very low level ways from an early age.

YoniBottsBumgina Mon 20-May-13 11:55:46

I think it's important to warn them before they come across it, but without exposing young children to something that they don't need to know exists. I'm thinking 10-11yos, similar to when "proper" sex education and drugs awareness starts now. Not giving details but just letting them know that porn is out there, it isn't realistic and is sometimes exploitative. Also covering the kinds of feelings that might come up if a picture is shared without consent or accidentally got into the wrong hands to highlight the dangers of sharinh or asking for images.

I'm not sure how you can talk to children about "the dangers of pornography" when they are at an age where they aren't even taught about "sex for fun". A certain amount of "how to keep safe while online" makes sense, and they should certainly be taught things about not sharing their information, not going to websites without checking with mum/dad/teacher - but tbh mum/dad/teacher should have controls on what they can get to anyway. So something like "If something comes up on the screen that confuses or upsets you, fetch a trusted adult" would be enough to cover it.

Pornography is an important topic to cover in sex education, but I don't think warning children from the age of 4 or 5 would be helpful, just confusing. It's like warning them against wandering off when you are out - you don't explain exactly what it is that could happen to them, that would be abusive in itself.

WouldBeHarrietVane Mon 20-May-13 12:41:59

Wasn't there a study recently that said boys are now seeing porn accidentally online at as early as 8? I will look out the link.

WouldBeHarrietVane Mon 20-May-13 12:42:51

Yes a mum I agree entirely with that formulation of what to say to them.

WouldBeHarrietVane Mon 20-May-13 12:44:46
flanbase Mon 20-May-13 12:57:19

Why not just turn off the computer or have children use the computer when they are supervised with an adult sitting next to them. I don't have my primary age kids using a computer when I am not there with them & then it is only for when they have been told by the school to use the internet for their homework.

sleepyhead Mon 20-May-13 13:12:25

How are these 6-8 year olds coming across porn "accidentally" ? I would wager that a good proportion of them are accessing links that their parents have visited and thus are in the browsing history.

It's not actually that easy or likely to view porn "accidentally" unless you're searching for words like "boobs" or "bum" or "fuck" (which 8 year olds will do - back in the clockwork age of the 70s we were reduced to looking rude words up in the dictionary and sniggering at the nursing bra section of the Mothercare catalogue) with safe search/parental controls switched off.

Anyway, I think there are ways of reducing the risk of young children viewing porn without having to tell them what it is. I'm not sure that the concept of porn is something a prepubescent child could really grasp.

THERhubarb Mon 20-May-13 13:34:41

YES

I work online and you'd have to have your head in the clouds if you didn't think kids could access porn. You only have to type in the most innocuous of terms in Google images and you will come across porn.

Most parents have no idea about Google safesearch. They have no idea that YouTube is only meant for children aged 13 and upwards. They don't see what photos and videos get shared on Facebook.

It's a bloody shame that we have to talk to our children about porn so young. The onus should not be on parents to do that but on the government to bloody well make internet companies step up to the mark and restrict access to pornography. Porn companies don't give a shit, they have no morals. If some 4 year old googles pink socks and Google images comes up with a load of shocking porn, they don't care. They are only interested in reaching out to a wider audience, luring people in with sick images and then getting them to pay for even more disturbing stuff.

I find it appauling that so many studies are showing that online porn IS affecting young people and relationships and that children are exposed to porn from a younger age and yet STILL the government does NOTHING. It's like banging your head on a brick wall.

Why the fuck should we have to tell 4 and 5 year olds about porn? Yet we do and that's just a sad fact.

scaevola Mon 20-May-13 13:42:35

I was wondering if they mentioned porn to grab he headlines.

The key issue is Internet security (which just wouldn't have got the coverage). So what I'd like to hear more about is age appropriate ways of discussing why Internet security is important, for that might need to include discussion of what the risks actually are.

I've muddled through in communicating with my DC, and given the little blighters will be IT savvy enough to circumvent tech measures by the time they're in year 7, by which time they or classmates will have smartphones, the only way forward seems to be in effective education and communication. And it needs to start in primary, because by secondary transfer it may be too late.

WouldBeHarrietVane Mon 20-May-13 13:43:27

I can think of the following ways a young child could access porn even if their family has safety filters on:

- they go to a friend's house and the friend's dm has no safety settings on - they google 'bum'

- they play with an elder siblings/friend's older siblings smart phone and do the same

- they see things by photo text which another child has forwarded on.

scaevola Mon 20-May-13 13:44:57

The Government does nothing btw, because there is nothing effective that can be done (many earlier threads on this). Installing filters at home (try K9) is cheaper, better, and already available.

EmpressOfTheSevenOceans Mon 20-May-13 13:48:00

It's definitely not just about home precautions. I have vivid memories of DD, aged 6, coming home giggling from school because an older boy had shown her "a lady with ice cream on her boobies" on a school computer. God only knows what the teachers were doing at the time. hmm

I think AMumInScotland has it right, though. Make sure DCs know that if anything they see on screen confuses or bothers them they need to tell an adult.

Aranea Mon 20-May-13 14:02:53

I do

Aranea Mon 20-May-13 14:05:54

Oops didn't mean to press post! I do think children need to be educated about staying safe online, from junior age. And, since I know 7-year-olds with smartphones and iPods, they also need to be educated about handling email and social media responsibly. At the moment parents are giving technology to their children without giving them the necessary information to handle it responsibly.

THERhubarb Mon 20-May-13 14:07:26

They don't have to google naughty words, many porn companies now have porn images and videos listed in highly rated search terms. So you could google "puppy" and unless you had strict filtering in place your child might come across images of a man's erect penis and worse.

And yes the government can do something. Internet companies can make sure that filters are already on pcs and laptops, only turning them off if the customer requests it.

Porn companies themselves should also be brought to task in exploiting loopholes that allows them to make images and videos available on general search terms.

scaevola Mon 20-May-13 14:10:40

Internet companies cannot make sure filters are on pcs etc. But hardware companies could.

Tee2072 Mon 20-May-13 14:17:44

It's not up to the internet companies or the hardware companies or the schools.

It's up to the parents.

What is with people wanting to abdicate responsibility for their children?

Yes, they can go to a friends house and have total access without you're knowledge. But that's true of all things you may not want them to see or do. That's part of growing up.

THERhubarb Mon 20-May-13 14:38:00

If that were the case Tee then there would be no need for sex education either. Unfortunately many parents don't give a shit and this is why we need tighter controls.

You are quite right, my child could go to a friend's house and watch 18 movies or see pornography. At the moment the law is strict enough that any 18 movies have to be downloaded or paid for by an someone who is over 18. Porn however manages to offer free snippets by way of graphic photos, video clips, etc. Even film companies have to make sure that their trailers comply with regulations but porn companies have no such restrictions placed on them. They take advantage of loopholes that should be closed.

There is more chance of my children seing online porn than them being exposed to an 18 movie at the moment and that is unacceptable.

Yes some parents are bloody ignorant when it comes to the internet. Some posters honestly believe that kids can't access porn by accident. Unfortunately this is not the case. The internet is a dangerous place and every single chat site that is set up for children has been or is being targeted by paedos. That's just the way it is. Yet some parents will happily bury their heads in the sand because the internet keeps their kids quiet for an hour or two, which is obviously more important to them than the safety of their child.

Tee2072 Mon 20-May-13 14:52:23

Well, honestly, Rhubarb? I don't think schools should do sex ed either.

Why do we always do things based on the lowest common denominator and assume it's the government's right to do things because some parents don't? Why can't we tell those parents to get with it so the rest if us can be left alone?

scaevola Mon 20-May-13 15:02:53

Tee - I agree with you. I onky posted about it being he hardware manufacturers' responsibility is becuase if (heaven forbid) a Government ever thought it would be a good measure, the it is they who would have to do it, not Internet comanies.

Anything done by the manufacturer is way less effective than installing and configuring filters yourself, and even that is also a drop in the ocean compared to the role of education by parents and/or schools in this.

The best a Government imposed centralised scheme would achieve is a false sense of security.

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