Manitoba

Winnipeg symposium looks at how porn is impacting kids

Is porn encouraging kids to start having sex at earlier ages? That is what recent research suggests, according to various child advocates, and was the focus of a symposium on pornography held in Winnipeg Monday.

Winnipeg symposium looks at how porn is impacting kids

8 years ago
Duration 1:58
Is porn encouraging kids to start having sex at earlier ages? That is what recent research suggests, according to various child advocates, and was the focus of a symposium on pornography held in Winnipeg Monday.

Pornography is encouraging kids to start having sex at earlier ages, according to recent research and various child advocates. 

That was the topic of focus at a symposium on porn held in Winnipeg Monday called "Generation XXX: The Pornification of our Children."

Some youth in Winnipeg are confirming just how normalized porn culture has become — even at the middle school-aged level.

Bronson Francois, who is in Grade 11, said he's been surprised to hear kids in grades 7 and 8 talking about the kind of stuff they've seen online.
Children's advocacy group Beyond Borders hosts a symposium entitled "Generation XXX, the pornification of our children," in Winnipeg, Nov. 17. (Beyond Borders ECPAT Canada)

"My minds blown," said Francois. "I just don't know what to say ... like, when I was that age I was still watching cartoons."

Hunter Fisher, 17, said mobile devices have made porn more accessible to youth, and even harder for parents to monitor what their kids are looking at on cellphones.

"So many people have iPhones now that it's, like, it's hard to stay away from it I think" said Fisher. "It's hard for parents to control it.  I think it's everywhere now."

Troubling statistics

Recent statistics show 90 per cent of kids aged eight- to 16-years-old admit to having watched porn at least once, mostly while doing homework.

Twenty-three per cent of teens in grades seven to grade 11—40 per cent boys and 7 per cent of girls surveyedresponded saying they've searched for porn online.

Gave Deem said he developed a porn addiction when he was just 12 years old.

It got so bad that by the age of 23, he could no longer perform sexually.
Saskatchewan's internet child exploitation unit began investigating after a grandparent became concerned with messages on their 10-year-old grandson's phone. (CBC)

"Ultimately it desensitized me and rewired my brain to my computer screen to where in real life I couldn't feel anything when I was in a real intimate situation," said Deem.

It took him nine months to overcome his addiction and lead a normal life, but Deem developed some perspective from the experience and was able to share his story at the Winnipeg porn symposium.

Pornification symposium

Rosalind Prober said porn is shaping what kids think they're supposed to do sexually. 

"The girls are saying, 'We just take it, we don't enjoy it'," said Prober. 

"They don't even consider the issue of consent — it's just something that they're expected to do. And guys think, the boys think that's normal."

Prober is advocating for stricter internet access rules to be put in place  to ensure kids can't view adult-only sites with such ease.

Until then, Prober said parents need to start talking to their kids about healthy relationships from an early age, so they're not just learning about sex education from watching porn online.

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