Children's Commissioner wants 'age gate' on porn sites

The Children's Commissioner is calling for a "hurdle" Kiwis have to leap over before they can watch porn online.

It comes after the Chief Censor released a report about New Zealanders' porn diet, with the most popular categories being 'high-definition', 'popular with women' and 'pornstar'. 

One of the findings was that youth are accessing content they shouldn't be, whether through hunting it down, finding it accidentally or being shown it by others.

"In a way, that's a form of sexual assault," Chief Censor David Shanks told The AM Show on Friday. "They don't want that, they're not consenting to it, but it's happening."

He said research shows one-in-four teenagers admit having seen pornographic content before they were 12 years old.

"The typical age of a child getting a smartphone these days is around about 11 years of age."

The Government is expected to propose new legislation to protect young children from seeing porn next year. Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft says a mandatory 'age gate' would be a good idea.

"It's going to take both Government and porn site cooperation - but I like the idea that there's a hurdle, there's a gate that has to be gone through that's well-supervised," he told Newshub.

He says there has got to be a way that can be built in to porn sites, calling it "addictive" and "insidious" for teens. 

"Youth workers and community groups up and down the country tell me over and over again it's one of the big but unaddressed issues that can have long-term consequences for individuals."

The UK has for years tried to implement an age gate system, but gave up in October citing privacy concerns and technical difficulties. It's been reported the New Zealand Government's plans reportedly don't include an age gate, but Children's Minister Tracey Martin wouldn't rule it out when asked in February.

"I definitely don't want to discount any ideas from anybody that might better protect our children and young people from what is this avalanche of pornography that they are being bombarded with currently."

Andrew Becroft.
Andrew Becroft. Photo credit: The AM Show

The site analysed by the Chief Censor in his latest report - Pornhub - is free to access and doesn't require a login or credit card. His team looked at 196 of the most-viewed clips by Kiwis. 

"There's good news and bad news and perplexing news in this latest study from my office. On the positive side, we've found levels of aggression are relatively low compared to previous studies. It's still high at around about 10 percent, and I think any level of aggression is too much... but still, that's a lot lower than has been indicated in some older studies."

The "striking and perplexing" finding was nearly half of the videos included aspects of step-sibling or step-parent incest.

"I think it's important to emphasise that these were clearly fictional, fanciful, almost ridiculous scenarios in many cases. But still, given our research last year that showed so many young New Zealanders and children are seeing this sort of content, that's a concern."

 

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz