Printer Friendly

We have an obligation to protect our children.

IT CAME to me when the Joker, as played by Jack Nicholson, was making Kim Basinger cry on TV.

My husband was watching Batman when Otis looked up and said: "nasty, turn it off".

He wasn't joking either, and my husband and I had to acknowledge that the time has come when we can only watch age-appropriate TV in front of our son.

It's not too big a strain, we're not great TV watchers anyway, apart from my husband liking snooker and we both like the tennis. Anything else gets watched after Otis has gone to bed.

But it got me thinking - the time will come soon when I have to monitor not only his TV but his internet usage.

It's not just scaremongering to monitor children's TV usage. I still find it difficult to watch American Werewolf in London after sneaking down and watching it at a too-tender age.

And I've never been able to re-watch The Triffids, although perhaps I should, just to put the demons at rest.

But my midnight sneaking as a youngster is nothing compared to what children can access these days.

Less tech-savvy parents often have internet access with absolutely no restrictions on it which means their children access anything the internet has to offer.

And the fact is ultra-internet savvy children have access to all sorts from hardcore porn to ultra-violence.

Parental responsibility has taken on a new tech-savvy element.

I've friends who have tales of eight-year-old boys accessing porn on the internet looking at "big bottoms".

And liberal as I am on many issues I do believe exposure of this kind too young can be incredibly damaging to children.

Sexualisation is happening younger and younger. Children are being exposed to the idea of being "sexy" from an incredibly early age.

Girls can buy padded bras and bikinis from the age of eight.

According to one recent survey, between 60 and 90% of under-16s have viewed hardcore online pornography. This is a huge problem. It's not copies of Playboy being passed around in the playground. There's some very graphic stuff out there. And there is growing evidence exposure to porn affects boys' views of adult relationships.

I don't want to get drawn into an extremist viewpoint about this. But any right-minded adult knows porn is inappropriate for children.

Yet many parents are also unaware of how easily it is accessed. Last week, at a Cambridge University debate, a porn star said giving children unfettered access to the internet "is like dumping them in Soho and saying, 'have a wander',".

And, on this point only, I agree with him.

It only takes something as puerile as a six year old typing "big bums" into an internet search engine to come up with graphic stuff.

And uh-huh that's funny, but not if you're a parent and you see what your child is actually looking at.

We need to protect our children.

Not molly-coddle them and try and make them think life is like a Disney cartoon.

I'm all for children knowing about the dangers in life and a bit about the realities of adult existence so they can protect themselves from it.

Just look at the stories from The Brother's Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen, honestly there's some pretty challenging stuff there. Seriously. But it is a mile away from the stuff kids today get exposed to and we're all starting to realise the problems with over-exposing children to adult issues too early.

We get anorexic eight year olds, those little girls worried about whether they are "sexy" enough without understanding what it actually is, and confused prepubescent boys viewing graphic material.

The government has even had to issue a public information film for teenagers showing the dangers of them emailing or texting topless pictures of themselves to each other. Children will always break rules, its part of growing up that pushing of boundaries. But to push them they need to know the boundaries exist.

A young lad sneaking a look at a porno mag knows he's doing something wrong, but if all he does is type something into the internet how can he know a restriction has been broken? As well as parents, there's a need for all facets of society to be responsible for safeguarding and teaching children of the adult world around them.

There is a delicate balance to be made between this protection and education.

I can't help think at the moment we're getting the balance hopelessly wrong.


BE AWARE Internet usage by children needs to be screened to protect them from less savoury information
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2011 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 23, 2011
Previous Article:Youngsters warned after vehicles hit by missiles.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters