We all know by now that if you want to find it on the internet, you probably can.
No matter what it is.
And some of that stuff should never exist, let alone be seen by a child.
The internet is a wonderful thing. In a lot of ways it has connected us like never before, and connected us to a wealth of knowledge that was not previously available with such ease.
Many of us use it every day of our lives and now some of us have never experienced life without it.
But when we’re talking about the course of human history it’s still a really new thing.
As such, we’re still struggling to come to grips with all of the ramifications of everything that’s out there for the viewing — by anyone with an internet connection.
It still sometimes has the ability to shock us. We certainly were when we perused the promotional materials for the documentary film Over 18: The Question is Not Enough screened at Vancouver Island University earlier this week.
The film addresses a topic that is almost unthinkable to many of us: children addicted to pornography.
Curiosity about sex, of course, is totally natural. It’s part of growing up and developing.
But we were taken aback by the idea that by the time they are young teens, some kids are recovering porn addicts. Meaning they’ve been immersing themselves in internet pornography for some time before that.
And what they’re looking at chills us to the core.
It’s not just a case of a curious boy who wants to see a woman’s breasts. They may start out there, but anyone who has been on the net knows how one link can lead to another and another.
We found this nightmarish: “The average age of online exposure for boys is just 12 years old, and up to 39 per cent of boys have viewed child pornography, bestiality and sexualized bondage, while 57 per cent of girls and 83 per cent of boys have seen group sex online.”
That’s a long way from stealing a peak at an adult magazine.
As the film’s title tells us, websites where people can find this stuff may only ask for a viewer to simply click to verify they are over 18, with absolutely no other gatekeeping.
Clearly, that’s not enough.
Out here in the real world parents need to talk to their kids, starting younger than we may have ever dreamed, about what’s out there.
And it’s not a bad idea to have them use the computer in a public area of house, either. Because the internet isn’t an overseer.