TV: SBS Insight – Generation XXX

Atheist thinker Allan de Botton wrote an article on the subject of sex, part of which touches on internet pornography as an inhibitor to lasting sexual relationships. Reading an article – Boy, 11, bombarded by with porn on sleepover made me think it was worth blogging about last week’s SBS Insight show – Generation XXX. You can watch the show or read the transcript on the SBS website (it’s an M-rated show with some expletives and verbal descriptions of some unpleasant content).

The average age that Australian kids are encountering pornography online is getting lower and lower. What does this mean for parents, for kids, and for society’s general tolerance for this kind of content?

On the show was a good cross-section of the community: it was skewed towards more highly educated people (I would imagine that this is standard for a talk-show of this kind), and there were more voices from academia than you might normally hear from the media. There were religious people on the show (Dominic Steele, an Anglican Minister and my one-time beach mission leader among them), and educators of primary aged children.

Easy access to smartphones means that images and videos can be passed around schools in a way that was unheard of a generation ago.

Responses from parents varied: one had sat with her daughter and shown her a porn site, so that they could discuss the topic with examples. Steele talked about a family holiday where they read through the book of Genesis (which contains most of the situations that kids are likely to encounter, but without the visuals). Nothing was made of a later comment from an educator that to show pornography to a child is a form of sexual abuse.

Another educator explained that the personal development curriculum continues to change to help girls know how to say no to unwanted requests from sexual partners: clearly the impact of this technology is changing the way people behave.

I’m asking myself what it means for me as a parent, but do we need to have a bigger discussion around what we’re prepared to put up with as a society? The outcome of the TV show seemed to be that people who want to look at porn should be able to, but we need to have porn that is more positive / respectful of women – I’m not convinced that they’re on the right track.

It seems that it’s going to be up to religious voices to make a difference to this discussion, but will those voices inevitably fall on deaf ears?

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