Our Kids Online is a gift. A gift to parents—if they heed the warnings and act accordingly. A gift to the kids of parents who watch it—if more boundaries and protections are implemented, and open, honest conversations result. A gift to society—if it wakes us from the haze of denial and apathy about the impacts that free, unlimited access to porn is having on our kids.
If you don’t “invade” their privacy, I can promise you, a predator will.
~ Russ Tuttle, President & Founder of Stop Trafficking Project
The biggest threat to our kids safety online… is the belief…
“Not my kid”
Our Kids Online begins with the question “who the hell would want to make a documentary about the effects of kids watching porn?” Our answer? Some of the most incredible humans we know.
Rob & Zareen, creators of Our Kids Online, are a husband and wife film-making team from New Zealand with four children between them. They went on a journey to work out the pros and cons of giving their kids smartphones and in their words “what we discovered, was something far more horrifying than we ever could have imagined.”
Children watching and mimicking violent, degrading, hardcore genres of free porn. Young girls sneak out to meet middle-aged men posing as teen boys. Countless predators online, targeting children on every app, game and platform on the internet—often behind closed bedroom doors. Abuse and sexual harassment amongst peers on social media platforms. Naked selfies shared amongst school kids and dick pics are being shared via social media to unsuspecting girls. Young women share naked selfies to find likes and affirmation. Young guys watching porn for years and ending up with porn-induced erectile dysfunction. Girls presenting to emergency departments with vaginal and anal injuries. Young guys are being charged for choking sexual partners. And a host of other terrifying outcomes. All the things that Young and Aware provide educational solutions for are packaged together in what is one of the most powerful and essential documentaries of our time.
Our Kids Online unpacks the history of porn and how it has morphed into abusive, violent and degrading content. It highlights the fact that there’s no Age Verification process in place to prevent access—and even when filters are implemented, there are so many other avenues for kids to be exposed. It explains how many of those who end up with long-term addictions saw porn from an early age – as early as five or six years old. And emphasises the importance of parents helping kids know how to manage what they see because their developing brains simply cannot cope with what they see.
When kids find something new, fun or dangerous, they want to share it with their friends… The more dangerous, the more grown-up, the more taboo, the better. So we can have filters at home and on their devices, but their friends might not. And so they go to school and go on the bus, and they are seeing what’s being shared. It doesn’t make any of them bad kids. It just makes them kids.
The documentary took Rob and Zareen on a trip to the U.S. to meet many of the worlds’ leading experts in this field. They interviewed those who were exposed to internet porn as children—stories of arousal addiction—an addiction that leads the consumer to seek new, more extreme material in order to be aroused. These stories serve as a bleak warning given that these young men were impacted at the beginning of this epidemic.
… we need to start seeing the belief that “porn never did me any harm when I was a kid”, for what it really is. Outdated, redundant, bullshit, that is leaving our kids drowning in an online world that is wiring their brains for pixels and endless novelty, rather than connection.
Featured in Our Kids Online is Dr. Gail Dines of Culture Reframed; Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, Heidi Olsen; representatives of Fight the New Drug; Kristen Jenson of Protect Young Minds; Warren Binford, Professor of Law and Children’s Rights Scholar; Addiction Specialists from Lifestar Network; Gabe Deem of Reboot Nation, Noah Church of Addicted to Internet Porn, and many others. I too, make an appearance, featuring Milly’s Message and Hamish and the Shadow Secret children’s books. Zareen provides massive praise for the way in which Hamish and the Shadow Secret can help kids understand why pornography makes them so confused, why it’s so harmful, and how important it is to ask for help.
Our children and adolescents need our help. During this time of self-isolation for COVID-19, kids are potentially on their devices for longer periods of time. As such, the risks have drastically increased. The Australian eSafety Commissioner, New Zealand Netsafe, Canada Cybertip, UK Barnado’s, and the U.S. FBI, have all issued urgent warnings to parents about the rise in victims of online child sexual exploitation. And on April 6, eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant, reported a 40 per cent increase in reports over the prior three weeks, compared with the previous 12-month weekly average. Reports of image-based abuse had increased by about 86 per cent, while reports about cyber-bullying of children were up 21 per cent.
As parents and caregivers, we need to understand how violent and degrading porn is desensitising our kids and providing them with harmful and distorted narratives, diminishing their ability to understand the meaning of healthy sexuality. And we need to understand how online hardcore pornography and the hypersexualised environment they live in, is making them vulnerable to sexual violence, normalised sexting and revenge porn, online predators, and a myriad of other sexual, psychological and emotional harms.
So while we are stuck at home, we urge you to make every effort to watch Our Kids Online—a gift that the world has been waiting for, a gift that the world has needed. It unpacks the problems clearly, provides parents with vital insight, and directs viewers to four easy solutions. If there’s a documentary that you need to watch and share in 2020, Our Kids Online is it.
If you are in Australia and need help with a cyber safety issue, the eSafety Commissioner can help. eSafety can investigate cyberbullying of children, adult cyber abuse, image-based abuse (sharing, or threatening to share, intimate images without the consent of the person shown) and illegal and restricted content. Report online harm here.
Report concerns to the Australian Center to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) about inappropriate behaviour towards children that you find online. This service can be used to report:
- Suspected online grooming or unwanted contact.
- An individual having a conversation with a child online and saying and doing inappropriate things or trying to meet in person.
- Live streaming and consuming child sexual abuse material.
- Coercing and blackmailing children for sexual purposes.