Concerns for young people as porn viewing numbers skyrocket during lockdown

Source: 1News

It's been revealed the Covid-19 lockdown has sent porn viewing numbers soaring and there's concern higher numbers of young people are accessing it as they spend more time on devices at home.

It's prompted calls for more open conversations about porn.

"Young people are telling us very clearly they want trusted adults to talk to them about these sorts of things," Chief Censor David Shanks told 1 NEWS. 

"They want people they can go to who won't judge them but listen to their concerns and give them that balancing narrative.

"That, beyond everything else, is the biggest takeaway from this research."

The research released yesterday by the Classification Office delves into why young people choose to look at porn.

"What young people are telling us is they're using porn as a resource even though they know it's fake and a terrible resource, but they're telling us they don't have another narrative about sex and relationships that porn is telling them," Mr Shanks says.

But watching it makes many uncomfortable and leads to issues around body image, consent and unrealistic expectations around sexual relationships.

That's where they want parental input.

"Some of the young people in the research said themselves, 'We know it's going to be awkward, we know you'll feel weird, it's OK if it feels strange.' I think joint ownership of that is good," sex therapist Jo Robertson says.

"There's more devices in their homes, more time on those devices. We've equipped young people with all those things, but not equipped the caregivers in their life, family or whānau to manage the conversations around safety online."

Recent shows like Netflix's Sex Education can play a part in normalising awkward conversations.

Porn usage in New Zealand has spiked under lockdown, with website Pornhub seeing more than a 20 per cent jump in traffic over those first few days.

While that's tailed off a bit, it's still consistently above the daily average.

It's sparking considerations that now's a great time for a chat, a conversation our young people say they desperately need.