The average age of first exposure to pornography is now a mere nine years old, and sexting is increasingly beginning much, much earlier as well. Children, after all, are growing up in a culture that has been hyper-sexualized in a historically unprecedented way: Entertainment, music, pornography, and youth culture are all infused with it to the point of saturation. Sexting and porn use are now the norm, and they are the norm for children, regardless of the comforting lies parents like to tell themselves to excuse their decision to provide their children with the devices necessary to access these things.
One recent example of just how ugly things are getting surfaced this week in the National Post, where police in the Canadian province of New Brunswick have issued a public warning to parents about children sharing nude and explicit images of themselves online. And by children, they do not mean young teens: Four children between the ages of eight and twelve posted naked photos or videos of themselves to free websites over the past several months. This “image-sharing” is becoming far more common, the police warned parents, and vigilance in these matters is absolutely essential.