Hawke's Bay families have been asked to take a stand against the ease of accessing online pornography for children.

Two Kiwi dads, Rory Birkbeck and Aaron Sinclair, designed Safe Surfer, an application which blocks harmful websites and enforces safe search options on Google and YouTube so pornographic material cannot be accidentally seen.

"Pornography often features aggressive content which is degrading towards women. We can't afford to have our children grow up thinking this is the sexual norm," Mr Birkbeck said.

The latest figures showed that 34 per cent of internet users were exposed to unwanted porn and 37 per cent of youths said pornography had shaped expectations in relationships.


A Colmar Brunton poll confirmed that 82 per cent of 16-18-year-olds had seen pornography and almost one third of New Zealand boys were watching porn several times a week.

Family First president Bob McCoskrie said this research was revealing the true picture, which linked the increased consumption and availability of online pornography to sexual violence.

"If we want to tackle sexual violence, we must first admit the role that pornography plays and the harm that it does to attitudes and actions."

He said evidence suggested that youth with greater pornography exposure were found more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviour at a young age, view women as sex objects and develop attitudes that support violence against women.

They also believed "rape myths", which were beliefs that justify or defend rape, and had increasingly aggressive behavioural tendencies.

A nationwide poll by Family First and conducted by Curia Market Research in April showed that 71 per cent felt porn was bad for society and 72 per cent believed there was a "fair bit" or "a lot" of connection between porn and rape culture.

Birthright Hawke's Bay practice manager Sharon Allan felt it was important something like Safe Surfer was in place to help protect youth.

However she said there also needed to be education around the issue and the application so parents were not oblivious to what was available.

"It is not something we come across a lot here but we have had a couple of cases where youth have accessed porn through their iPad and acted out sexual acts with friends."

Safe Surfer is an extension of the duo's original solution, which operated over people's home Wi-Fi connection.

The application gives people the same protection but covers smartphones or tablets when they are away from home or not connected to their own Wi-Fi.

"We wanted something dead simple that would allow families to put commonsense measures in place," Mr Birkbeck said.

Once installed the new application cannot be overridden without a pin code, giving parents reassurance their children cannot deliberately remove it.

Parliament is considering a petition signed by 22,334 New Zealanders calling for an expert panel to be appointed to investigate the public health effects and societal harms of pornography.

Mr Birkbeck said it was now time for local families to have a public conversation about the issues at stake and what safeguards were required.

"In the meantime we hope that Safe Surfer will provide Hawke's Bay families with an easy, reliable solution and greater piece of mind."

To find out more about Safe Surfer and access their filters visit: www.safesurfer.co.nz.