Sex, Sexuality and Social Media: A New and Pressing Danger?
As we highlighted in Chap. 6 the last decade has seen a proliferation of debates over the sexualisation of childhood. Whilst there are dissenting voices in these debates, the general consensus is that exposure to sexual imagery, clothing and media representation is inherently harmful for children. Arguably, the anxieties over the impact of sexualisation are at their strongest in relation to children and young people’s use of information communication technology (ICT), including mobile phones, personal computers and internet access. In England, it is a statutory duty to teach ICT under the National Curriculum and it is recognised that learning how to use computers and other communications devices “ensures that pupils becomes digitally literate – able to use, and express themselves and develop their ideas through, information and communication technology – at a level suitable for the future workplace and as active participants in a digital world”. However, despite the centrality of digital literacy for future employment and active citizenship in the twenty-first century, children’s unsupervised use of information technology has become a cause of concern for a number of ‘interested’ parties, including politicians, ‘child experts’, charity organisations and parents. These concerns have resulted in a number of moral panics (Pascoe 2011) which centre around, amongst other things, stranger danger, children’s vulnerability to sexual predators through online grooming, children’s engagement in sexually risky behaviour and the impact of consuming pornography, especially on the development of ‘normal’ sexuality in young boys.
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