Age verification to prevent children from watching porn

Watching porn is about to get much harder for underage web users in the UK, who will have to prove their age in order to gain access to digital smut.

Lydia Morrish
Lydia Morrish NewsMavens, United Kingdom
Age verification to prevent children from watching porn - NewsMavens
Watching screen, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

Porn is a divisive topic. Although more people have watched porn at some point than those who haven't -- nearly 1000 people watched porn on Pornhub every second in 2017 – there are lots of politics at stake when it comes to people getting their rocks off in front of their computer screen.

While it's certainly not as much of a taboo as it used to be, thanks to the popularity and ease of online porn, some people think that watching porn can be unhealthy, or damaging, especially for younger viewers.

It's the concern that children are able to access online porn that is leading to new age verification rules coming into action in the UK later this year. As part of the Digital Economy Act, people will have to prove they're over 18 years old before hitting "play".

Viewers will either have to enter credit card information in exchange for access, or prove their age in-person in a store and purchase a code that will allow them to view porn when they're back at home.

As someone who's been writing about porn and the politics that surround it for three years, I'm aware of what's at stake once you start regulating porn.

Protecting children should always be a priority, but critics say the new rules are dodging the real issues associated with young people watching porn.

“To truly protect young people, compulsory sex education, provided by independent experts rather than untrained teachers, needs to be funded and supported by the government,” said porn filmmaker and performer Pandora Blake and obscenity lawyer Myles Jackman in a joint response to the government's proposals.

The consequences of porn can be devastating if people aren't aware of the process and politics of porn. Why not teach children about healthy sex including how the porn industry works so they are better able to decide for themselves if porn is right or wrong?

If education isn't prioritized when it comes to keeping young people safe and aware of healthy sex, we're in for trouble.

Details from the story:

  • Residents of the UK will have to verify their age before watching porn when new regulations come in later this year.
  • This could be by buying a "porn pass" in a shop or entering their card details online.
  • There are concerns about security and privacy though, and the potential for gathering data about users and their porn habits.
  • Critics also said age verification "is a distraction from the real issues" and said education is the way to go to keep kids safe from harmful content.
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