Less than two decades ago, access to and viewing of pornography was restricted to sleazy neighbourhood video parlours which surreptitiously loaned and/or displayed pornographic material. But in the new millennium with the Internet becoming ubiquitous and advent of cheap Internet data and smartphones, online pornography has become instantly accessible, affordable and anonymous for the masses. There’s no shortage of studies or data which prove that the unchecked growth of a billion dollar multinational porn industry is a prime causative factor behind the rising incidence of crimes against women and — worse, little children — worldwide and in under-policed and educationally under-served third world countries in particular.
In 2015, responding to the demand of several parents groups, lawyers and activists (and EducationWorld), the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre ordered Internet service providers to block the broadcast of 857 pornography websites into India. However, following a hue and cry about moral policing from misguided liberals cut off from ground realities, it reversed this order. A public interest litigation to block access to pornography websites in India is pending in the Supreme Court even as the government plans to set up an ombudsman for regulating Internet content including pornography.
In this month’s cover story, we highlight the dangers of parents unintentionally allowing children and adolescents easy access to mentally and morally destabilising pornography. With an estimated 134 million children and teens accessing the Internet, there’s high probability they are viewing inappropriate sexual content. In our cover feature, well-informed psychologists and parenting experts warn about the hazards of children and teens suffering negative emotional, psychological and physical health outcomes including depression, anxiety, violent behaviour, promiscuity, teen pregnancies and gender equality distortions, if allowed to access increasingly depraved porn.
There’s much else in this disturbing issue of ParentsWorld. Check out our Health & Nutrition essay by Vellore-based pediatrician Dr. Gita Mathai on protecting your family from the invasion of plastics; Early Childhood feature providing excellent guidelines to young parents on dealing with bed-time tantrums and Interview with children’s author Sowmya Rajendran.