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Pornography and parenting in the time of coronavirus

You may have seen the hilarious ad out of New Zealand. A bath-robed mum opens her front door to find a couple of naked porn performers. Sue and Derek announce they’ve dropped by because her son, Matt, has just been watching them online, and they’re concerned he’s “just a kid” who “might not know how relationships actually work”.

Derek and Sue drop in ... from the New Zealand ad encouraging parents to talk to their children about pornography.

Derek and Sue drop in … from the New Zealand ad encouraging parents to talk to their children about pornography.

When performing, they explain, they never discuss consent. “And I’d never act like that in real life,” says Derek.

Their concerns are well founded, and not so hilarious. For many young people, porn has become a default sex educator, shaping their understanding, expectations and experiences of sex. And thanks to COVID-related restrictions, people of all ages have been spending far more time online. Streaming is in. Big time.

Amid social distancing globally, porn sites have reported a sharp increase in traffic. Visitor numbers boomed when some sites announced that they would temporarily make their paid content free. Three sites are now among the top 10 most visited websites in the world – ahead of Amazon, Netflix and eBay.

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