How African children are being exposed to porn

Posted on May 22, 2017 12:00 am

As they say, sex is the oldest known industry and in Africa, it is thriving albeit in different channels. The continent’s adult sexual content and culture has woven itself seamlessly into the fabric of the internet. Some of it is abstruse, and some not so abstruse, but there is now thousands of dedicated porn websites available with Africans acting and significantly growing demand to view the content is only the state of the sector to greater heights.One of the most popular site (for ethical reasons I can’t share the name), and according to its 2016 data on visitors to the website, African countries audience watched more than 100 million hours of porn. The site, owned by a Southern Africa country entrepreneur, is just one of thousands of porn websites so these figures help us to gain some idea of just how much porn is available online. Overall, the chances of African children viewing porn online are high. Data in my possession for 2016 shows about 5% of school aged children actually seek out pornography online, including almost 2% of primary school children.However, most African children who view sexual images or sexual activity online come across it by accident. The same data shows that one third of African children in urban areas aged between 8-16 years had unwanted exposure in 2016 and the figure is expected to rise which is a significant problem.The core sites where these African children main in urban areas are exposed are game websites and movie streaming websites for kids which some of them include a sidebar or pop up ads that contain advertising material of a sexual nature.When i visited some gaming sites in Africa focused on kids, two of them brought up an ad whose sponsored content included nude girls in highly sexual positions with links to more explicit content.But, its no longer a big deal for African children because they can also view nudity and no-holds-barred simulated on ever popular Game of Thrones and one of Africa’s most popular video game Grand Theft Auto where simulated sex scenes are common although producers of such don’t target children but they are easily accessible. In addition to that, any kid in Africa with a phone that has internet, can log on YouTube and watch porn. African children are making greater independent use of the internet at younger ages, therefore it’s not uncommon for a child under ten years old to be watching porn online without an adult beside them.From my online searches, i can confidently say that the likelihood of an African child being exposed to sexual imagery is extremely high and the content is increasingly explicit.Children’s potential engagement with pornography is worrying. What i do however know with my African adventures and experiences, no single parent would allow their kids to access such content and i can say most it is accidental viewing which seems to be going under the radar of the parents or guardians.

It is clear the implications for this generation of African children who are accidentally exposed to pornography from a very early age is not gonna be rosy. Given that much of their internet use is independent, African children are often left to formulate their own ideas and impressions of this.Few countries in African have bothered to look into the issue of children and access to online pornography.The relatively new phenomenon of internet access in Africa means that viewing pornography will continue to impact on the attitudes of children about gender roles and the belief that women are sex objects, that men should be dominant and women be submissive. This is however not new because that’s exactly how an African woman is expected to be as the recent murder of Karabo Mokoena demonstrated. There is limited empirical evidence that viewing pornography has caused Africa children to engage in coercive, aggressive or violent sexual behaviour.It is impossible to ban African children from using the internet and even attempting to do will not the answer because as one would say, the horse has bolted and smartphones are as cheap as they come in Africa where $100 can give you a superbly performing smart device.African children are growing up in a technological era and there are many wonderful learning benefits that children gain from it, but the dirty side is also manifesting. African countries need to deal with both sides.From my findings, plenty of the sexual content African children come across stems from their social uses of the internet as opposed to use at school. This means that action needs to start with parents taking more responsibility. Implementing appropriate safety settings and ad-blockers are in place on devices is one way to prevent some of the exposure. No doubt in my mind that African children are becoming adept with technology, therefore responding to this issue requires more than removing or blocking such material.Also, shunning ancient African taboos and starting the difficult conversations early so children can learn to identify, process and critique pornographic content when they come across it can be of great help. Such discussion can emanate from the time a parent sees these images on their child’s screen. Some of these discussions should be about staying safe online as well as age-appropriate talks about sex and healthy and respectful relationships.My elementary teacher used to tell us that highly sexual images inform view of sex long before anyone experiences it and for kids its dangerous. It is a good idea to regularly go online together with a child if you are a parent or guardian and in case sexual images are displayed while the kid is playing a game or searching, then that would be an appropriate opportunity to talk about it and what the kid should do upon seeing them. As an individual, I appreciate the guide I received as a tween and teen on matters sex because as my elementary teacher used to say, leaving a kid to understand sex images on own has more disastrous implications in their life than lack of education.

Contador Harrison