Children's Minister Tracey Martin plans online porn crackdown

Bestiality and snuff porn is being blamed for warping the minds of Kiwi teens - and now a NZ First MP wants an online crackdown.

New Zealanders are the fifth-most prolific porn users in the world according to Pornhub, with top searches including 'lesbian', 'Māori' and 'step-mum'.

Now, Children's Minister Tracey Martin wants censorship laws updated, giving the Government the power to bring in age restrictions for online porn - and the power to block websites which refuse to obey.

The UK is already introducing compulsory age verification checks on pornography later this year in an attempt to make it harder for under-18s to be exposed to explicit material. Ms Martin wants something similar.

"I have already had conversations with the chief censor with regard to a particular drive of mine to make sure we as a nation do something about what is the bombardment of pornography and the easy access to pornography that our young people are experiencing," she told NZME.

"Considering our censorship laws were pre-internet, this is an area that we have left for a long time without addressing and I think we need to address it."

A 2017 Office of Film and Literature Classification report showed Kiwi teens are able to easily access any material they wish via the internet, causing a "significant problem".

"What is happening right now is they are watching graphic scenes of sex, sexual violence, rape," chief censor David Shanks told The AM Show.

"It's affecting them, it's shaping their attitudes and they're not talking to adults about it. They're certainly not talking to their parents."

Other experts told The Project the material included increasingly hardcore content.

"There's bestiality, there are snuff movies - people being killed. Women being horribly abused," sex addiction therapist Bridget Wilson said this year.

And the effects of this porn consumption have been labelled a "crisis" by clinical psychologist Dr Mark Thorpe.

"There is an extreme amount of sexual problems with young men under 25 - and that manifests as erectile dysfunction; delayed ejaculation; diminished libido with real life partners, not screen; and an avoidance of genuine relationships," he told The Project host Jesse Mulligan.

Mr Shanks has started a major new research project into New Zealand teenagers' online pornography habits. The results will be used to help develop policy - including possible pornography regulation.

"We're pretty excited about it," he told NZME.

"In our view policy in this area does need some consideration, in terms of how do you regulate use and access to porn in the digital environment.

"The question there is... when the average age to get a smartphone is 10-and-a-half to 11 years old, what sort of tools and restrictions can we really place on access to material that's widely available on the internet?"

Newshub.