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An education technology startup, Mrs Deola Eka, on Tuesday in Lagos said that indiscriminate usage of Internet connectivity through phones and other gadgets was responsible for early exposure of children to pornographic contents.

She told newsmen that youngsters between ages 8 to 12 had unrestricted access to sexually explicit materials through the use of the internet on phones and other Information Technology (IT) gadgets.

Eka, Chief Executive Officer, Crystal Technology, noted that parents now buy phones for children at a relatively young age without thinking of the adverse effects the devices could have on their children.

“Easy access to online pornography and the potential harm of consistent exposure raise concerns about children’s health and well-being.

“The Internet has made children’s access to pornography a more significant issue. Children who use email or surf the Internet are at risk of exposure to pornography

“According to research, children are more vulnerable to pornographic images than adults, because of mirror neurons in the brain which convince people that they are actually experiencing what they see.

“If parents deem it necessary to buy phones for children, they need to put a lot of effort in monitoring them by downloading application that track their activities online,” Eka said.

She, however, noted that the Internet was a great invention which had radically changed lives for the better.

Eka added that the Internet had changed and shaped cultures in all aspects of life, including entertainment, commerce, communication and media.

She explained that in as much as the Internet had brought positive changes, the great advancement also brought with it some serious risks to the most vulnerable – the children.

“Monitoring what kids do online is critical and can mean the difference between keeping kids safe and losing all control over them.

“Pornography may have stronger effects among children than other forms of media, because it shows a much higher degree of sexual explicitness.

“Once children are addicted to it, most of them out of curiosity are tempted to practicalise what they have seen online.

“Some of them even download erotic e-books and while reading, form images performing sexual activities in their minds,” she said.

The IT expert said that pornography was harder to access a few years back, because there were human filters to obtain it.

Eka added that even the themes of pornographic magazines and videos were much less perverted than what they are now.

She noted that, currently, a pornographic website was a trap.

“Not only are there links to explore, the advertisements and popups are potentially dangerous to an uninitiated mind.

“They are designed in such a manner that a person keeps on visiting them, even if he or she does not want to.

“Children who have been exposed to sexually explicit media or victims of defilement are likely to engage in sexual activities at a very young age,’’ she said.

According to her, the protection of children must begin at home, where parents are expected to monitor and educate their children about the values and dangers of the Internet.

She said that it was the duty of parents to educate their children about media representations of sex, relationships and gender roles.

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