By: Deborah Berry | July 21, 2022
SOCIETY’S PHYSICAL BARRIERS
There was a time when society had physical barriers between children and the adult entertainment world. These two segments of the populace were purposely kept at arms length from one another. The collective wisdom of communities agreed: adult entertainment and sexually explicit material was for adults and not children. Within that world order, the internet did not yet exist and the ability to access adult content was severely limited.
Society dictated when one became of legal age, one was free to partake of the adult entertainment venues assuming one had the motivation to do so. It required brazen behavior to venture into adult-only businesses and cross a physical boundary into a world of adult X-rated materials and a point of no return.
Pornography or the preferred polite term of adult entertainment, is nothing new. It has been with us as long as Adam and Eve. Brothels, men’s clubs, massage parlors and sex-oriented businesses were not places children wandered into. There were physical boundaries that existed and prevented this from happening.
A number of advancements in technology helped fast-track the infiltration of pornography into everyday society. They include video tape, which moved adult films out of the movie theaters and into private homes; DVDs, which could be rented or purchased often through mail order; and home computers where subscribers could download adult content. These advancements provided individuals privacy and an ability to partake in the shadows. Still, boundaries existed, to a large degree because most minors did not have access to credit cards.
One day, this abruptly changed and every barrier came tumbling down. The flood gates of pornography opened up and it was only a matter of time before it washed across this country, permeating every crevice of society until it eventually overtook and captured our most precious asset: our children.
HOW DID IT HAPPEN?
It is not difficult to identify the series of events that led us to a crossroad that would forever change access to sexually explicit material (SEM) for anyone…anytime…anywhere. It is not challenging to pinpoint the moment when a new reality was created.
It can basically be summed up in three words: Free internet content.
The year was 2003. Four Canadian college friends with a love of the internet and pornography created a website featuring women and their greatest physical assets. (These were college boys, so I bet you can figure out what assets I am referring to. The word “pornography” is also a context clue). As the demand for more creative categories grew, the ambitious friends continued to expand the platform. By 2007, PornHub had been formed and pornographic content was available free of charge…a novel concept. A viewer could check the website out at no cost and then buy a subscription with a more premium experience. That is the short story.
Mindgeek (formerly known as Manwin) owns over 48 subsidiaries which includes PornHub, a video sharing service (think YouTube for pornography). Other companies under the Mindgeek umbrella include pornographic websites, adult film production companies, and distribution services. They are the “Amazon” of pornography.
PornHub has mastered the use of digital data collection and A.I. (artificial intelligence) to identify and meet the very specific sexual appetites of billions of worldwide viewers. Please think about that for a minute. They are capable of gathering more data than Netflix and Hulu combined. This makes PornHub unique, in the fact, it caters to clientele over advertisers.
ADULTS & CHILDREN ON THE SAME INTERNET PLAYGROUND
Allow me to draw a scenario: free pornographic content, A.I. to identify and customize viewer’s sexual fantasies, an ability to push more extreme content, and an internet that considers a thirteen year old to be an adult. Now, let’s place smartphones, iPads and laptops in just about every school-aged child’s hands and ask yourself what could possibly go wrong? The more accurate question might be: what does NOT go wrong? What are we thinking? According to PornHub’s “2021 Year in Review,” 85% of material was viewed on mobile phones; an item most parents elect to give their children at an average age of 10 years old.
THE TOUGH PART
Here is the really tough cringe-worthy part. The idea that along with placing technology capable of connecting to the internet in your child’s hands, should come a parental talk about pornography and all the harm that accompanies it. So in theory, if I hand my 5 year old an iPad or my 10 year old a smartphone, I should also be willing and able to have this conversation. I readily admit, I am not precisely sure where to start with the sexually explicit material part. The birds and bees conversation I can handle, the pornography one, not so much. Not only does the thought of this make me woozy, it makes me deeply sad.
But wait…there is more, and it gets a bit more absurd.
PornHub launched a sex education portal in 2017 (just be careful not to get it mixed up with Sex Education Porn Videos). On its website, you will be able to “get my questions answered” about sex and sexuality by Dr. Laurie Betito. I am not making this up.
What on Earth? So, let me get this straight. Pornhub, one of the world’s leading pornography websites, wants to be considered a “legitimate resource” to educate not only me but our young population on sex and sexuality?
PornHub’s rational is simple: One-half of children between the ages of 10-17 are exposed to pornography and often find themselves on PornHub’s website. Only one-half of the schools in the United States are mandated to teach sex education, so there is a necessary public service to be performed. PornHub is correct, but it begs the question: Is the fox guarding the henhouse? In what universe does this make sense?
THE PARENT CODE
As a dedicated parent, I am not interested in being the moral police for anyone other than my children. My hands are full. My parental responsibility and desire is to raise healthy kids who have a solid spiritual base from which to live their lives. It is my duty to provide and instill a moral compass strong enough to navigate questionable waters. They deserve to be kids before they are adults. Having said this, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to protect the sexual innocence of children, especially if we are willing to place technology in their hands.
It is a fact, 71% of teens come across internet pornography without even looking for it, placing a huge burden, on not only teens, but also parents. How does this happen? It happens as easy as a random text appearing on a smartphone, using social media platforms, viewing pop-up advertisements alongside a sports site, selecting clickbait at the end of a newsfeed, and the misfortune of typing the wrong word into a search feed on the internet.
WHERE IS THE WAY OUT?
For adolescents who use technology, avoiding toxic content on the internet is nothing short of “defensive driving.” I would be willing to bet, a significant amount of kids would be grateful to be relieved of the daily cocktail of unpredictable pressure. I can only imagine as the pressure melts away, so would the anxiety and depression.
Adolescent brains are in the process of developing. Most of us are aware the brain’s frontal cortex is responsible for impulsivity and judgement, and is not fully developed until around age 27. Therefore, it should be no surprise: kids sometimes find themselves in situations they did not anticipate and have few skills for predicting the outcome. The ability to see around corners is limited, and they oftentimes find themselves needing a way out whether they realize it or not. Our kids count on us to be parents who provide stability and at times, simply have their back.
A NATION OF FAITH
When a tragic life-altering event occurs in this country, many of our political and religious leaders call upon the nation to pray for the lives of those harmed. In that same spirit, I would urge our nation to pray for our children and their ability to navigate the continuously overwhelming pressure that stems from social media and technology. They are easy marks for those who wish harm.
Why does this matter?
It matters, because the curiosity of a child is never wrong; what is wrong is when someone takes advantage of that curiosity. Our children are being preyed upon daily through the use of social media and technology. These are tomorrow’s adults, and we all hold a stake in their future.
- Article 1 – “Pornhub wants to be the hottest destination for sex ed”
- Article 2 – “Pornhub Sex Education Portal Launched: Dr. Laura Betito Will Teach You About Sex And Love”
- Article 3 – “Pornhub 2021 Year in Review”
- Article 4 – “The Kings Of Smut”
- Article 5 – “Porn sites collect more user data than Netflix or Hulu. This is what they do with it.”
- Article 6 – “The Association Between Exposure To Violent Pornography And Teen Dating Violence In Grade 10 High School Students”