And the range of material they’re looking at is vast – everything from explicit sex to violent acts and bestiality.
There are different views about how to deal with this. Some believe that children should be taught about pornography in the classroom, while others are worried that that could just pique their curiosity.
Sex education is delivered inconsistently across Australia, and there is debate about whether or not the current education programs are meeting the needs of young people. Many school children say they have learnt a lot more about sex through pornography than from sex-ed.
Some parents are taking it upon themselves to teach their kids about porn, to prepare them for what they might come across and explain the difference between porn and reality.
Insight looks at how children are accessing porn, what they’re looking at, whether anything needs to be done about it, and where the responsibility lies when it comes to educating children about sex and pornography.
Nova Stewardson, 14, first came across pornography at age 11 after doing a Google search for ‘sex’ on her home computer. She says most of her school peers came across porn on their laptops or phones before they reached their teens. Nova believes pornography is influencing boys’ sexual behaviour and girls are expected to conform to what the boys want.
Yovan, 16, says he first came across pornography when he was eight. He still watches it every now and then but he says it hasn’t influenced his sexual behaviour. He says porn is hard to avoid on the internet with pop-up ads often appearing on gaming websites.
Charlie Kay says pornography taught him far more about sex than any classroom sex-ed discussion. He says he first learned how to kiss by using a pornographic film as an instructional video. Charlie believes the school curriculum should include a discussion on pornography.
Nicole Anscombe talks freely with her children about sex. She buys porn magazines for her teenage son and discusses the contents with him. And she gave a mirror to her teenage daughter and told her to explore herself. Nicole isn’t worried about pornography as long as her kids are informed about it.
Michael Flood is concerned that watching some sorts of pornography may result in sexist and violent attitudes towards sexual partners. Michael has researched young people’s use of pornography and teaches sociology at the University of Wollongong.
Jenny Walsh wrote the sex education curriculum for primary schools in Victoria and is updating teaching materials for students in years 9 and 10. She says the best way to mitigate the impact of pornography on children is to teach them the good things about sex. Jenny is from La Trobe University’s Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society.
Tuesday at 8.30pm on SBS ONE.