Children are being exposed to more pornography online than ever before. A recent study found that 42% of all American children aged 10-17 had been exposed to content of pornographic nature. 70% of those kids stated they were not looking for pornographic content.
While there are many harmful side effects of children viewing pornography, it has to be said that not every child who views adult content will be negatively affected and traumatized. The harmful effects of pornography are more cumulative in essence, like the effect of an addict whose increasing craving for his drug leaves him more and more depraved until he is no longer able to recognize reality from fantasy. This is what parents should be most worried about. Children exposed to pornography over a longer period can develop a very unhealthy view on sexuality and may act out in ways that make them susceptible to predators.
Studies have shown that children who experience early exposure to pornography (at age <14), have a much greater propensity to be involved in deviant sexual practice, particularly involving rape or sex with older partners.
One of the grim consequences of the raising adult like sexual activity among kids is the increase of sexually transmitted diseases in youth. In the US, one in four sexually active teenagers get an STD every year. Infectious syphilis, which may leave the infected person sterile, has more than doubled in reported cases since the late 1980's. More children contract STD's every year than ever before. It's an epidemic threatening all teenagers.
Another unwanted consequence is teenage pregnancy. A study found that young males who frequently watched pornography were much more likely to engage in unprotected sex leading to pregnancies and venereal disease. Of 993 interviewed sex addicts, 90% had been watching pornography since youth.
The effects of pornography on the development of children is a neglected topic in the media. The reason for this is likely that pornography makes contributes a major industry in the US and on the internet. It is estimated that over 1/3 of all internet websites are pornographic in nature. Even parents who educate their children on how to avoid such content have no control over the sheer amount of pornography being passed around on social sites and trough email.