Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Online culture putting Kiwi kids at risk of porn addiction

Psychologist Kyle MacDonald. Photo / Supplied
Psychologist Kyle MacDonald. Photo / Supplied

Kiwi boys as young as 9 are seeking help for addiction to online porn and experts warn New Zealand does not have enough professionals to help rising numbers of kids.

"The human brain doesn't mature until we are in our mid-20s, so introducing any mood-altering process like porn is damaging and arrests development of the brain - the earlier, the more damaging," Bridget Wilson, an Auckland-based addictions counsellor, told the Herald on Sunday.

"You wouldn't give a 6-year-old alcohol, so why allow them access to porn?"

Auckland psychotherapist Kyle MacDonald believed parents are vital in stopping the internet becoming the new sex educator.

"The No 1 problem is the amount and ease of access kids have to online porn," he said.

The Salvation Army reports an increase in people seeking help for porn addiction. "It is estimated more than half of young people have seen online porn by 14 and some are addicted to it by the age of 11," spokeswoman Christina Tyson said.

"If they are seeing a lot of violent or degrading material including porn that promotes rape fantasies, this could shape their view of sex and relationships. for a very long time."

Peter Altmann, spokesman for parenting help organisation Tough Love, said screen time is a real issue for children and teens.

"The kids who are viewing porn will probably be very secretive about it so parent's really need to be looking over their shoulders to see what they are accessing online," he said.

- Herald on Sunday

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