With social media so easily accessible these days, experts warn that parents should constantly monitor their kids’ online activity. Vaughan Warren Luck from the Doctors For Life organisation says that on average, 90% of parents across the world are often “too busy” to keep an eye on what their children are doing on the Internet. Today’s kids are increasingly at risk of online sexual predators.
He added that there’s a big spike in revenge porn in South Africa, especially among teenage boys. Revenge porn involves the publishing of sexually-explicit private pictures without consent, with the aim of shaming the person in the image. This is particularly prevalent after break-ups.
A study, titled X-Rated: Sexual Attitudes and Behaviours Associated With US Early Adolescents’ Exposure to Sexually Explicit Media, conducted by students at the University of North Carolina, suggested that “by the end of middle school (primary school) many teens have seen sexually explicit content not only on the Internet, but also in more traditional forms of media as well. Such exposure is related to early adolescents’ developing sense of gender roles, sexual relationships, and sexual behaviour, including perpetration of sexual harassment. These analyses suggest that sexually explicit media should be considered important.”
In essence, children who have easy Internet access and therefore access to sexual content are more vulnerable to sexual predators as they tend to give away personal information that could put them at jeopardy.
Luck says: “When a young person is brought up where nude selfies, trading sex for gifts, and prostitution are glamorised and made to seem normal, there’s something that happens to the development of the brain. Self-gratification, whether it’s being liked on Facebook or someone telling you that you are awesome, has an effect on us. The same chemicals released when you do drugs are also released when you get a ‘like’ on Facebook, when you’re watching porn or when you have sex. If exposed to these things from a young age, your brain is hardwired to react to these stimuli. It’s called the ‘reward system’. ”
“On a developing brain this can be very damaging and lead to addictive behavioural patterns, as well as what’s right and wrong. Watching porn changes how you see people… people become objects to be used in order for self-gratification. Rape becomes normal. Selling sex for nice things becomes normal,” he says.