Policing Porn: is age-verification a step in the right direction?

New porn age-restriction laws might be necessary , but we can do more to change attitudes towards porn, sex and relationships

Imogen Clarke
28th February 2022
Image: Pixabay

A new law has been drafted by government digital minister, Chris Philp, in an attempt to block children from accessing porn online. Commercial porn sites will now be required to bring in age-verification technology. Previously to this, porn websites have been practically free for anyone to access, apart from under WiFi blockers in schools, and possibly at home. Bringing age-restriction into law is a step in the right direction, considering the massive impact porn can have on children’s adult relationships. Watching porn at a young age skews a child’s perception of body image, sex, and physical connection. As adults, most people can separate porn and reality. Children cannot. This is the basis of the new law.


However, it could be argued that the new law is just a way for the Conservatives to appease worried parents. While this is valid, the new law puts the onus on porn websites to protect children or be fined by Ofcom. This is certainly cheaper for the government than inputting proper sex education into schools. While I am in no way opposed to the law- some may see it as a convenient “cop out” for the Tories. But parents don’t always want their children to be educated on “tough” topics- the law appeals to traditional family values; it protects children from porn. Good sex-ed is the way forward, but learning about porn, gay relationships, and female pleasure in school? Unheard of.

Strict parenting breeds rebellious children, and this applies to porn too


It has been estimated that 51 per-cent of 11-13-year-olds have watched porn. I agree that this is far too young, but if we hide it, children will just find it anyway. Open conversations at home promote more disinterest than porn being taboo, and off-limits. Strict parenting breeds rebellious children, and this applies to porn too. If the government wants to get strict on porn websites, great, but it won’t work with Britain’s kids. Besides the fact that the government is allowing adult websites to choose how they age-restrict viewers, it may be that the technology isn’t fool-proof enough for the legislation to work. Perhaps the government is leaving it up to the websites because they don’t know how to do it themselves! Taking credit card details and driving licences from viewers sounds good, but what if a minor steals their parents’?


Issues of data protection have also been raised. With increasing cases of cyber-crime and leaked details, what if the identities of viewers came to light, even what they had been watching? There is also the likelihood that another porn website will pop up in place of the ones restricted. A lot of porn viewed online happens through websites from other countries, can the same laws be applied? Children view porn through pop-ups, and social medias. Perhaps the government should raise the age restrictions on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit as well. The unfortunate truth is that porn will always find its way onto our children’s screens. However, the way in which they react and deal with that can be changed through education. And, an awareness of the reality of porn make it less likely that they will go searching for porn out of curiosity online. Porn has been teaching children sex education more so than teachers in school or parents at home. This has to change.

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