The failure of adults to enforce sensible boundaries online is to blame for children’s warped view of sex and relationships, according to David Cameron’s former policy adviser.
Steve Hilton has warned that children are being allowed to “experience the adult world too soon because we’re too lazy or too weak to properly invigilate”.
The result, he says, is a culture where girls think they have to look like pornography actresses and boys lose “any moral or cultural restraint to treat girls with respect or affection”.
Hilton wrote: “Our culture mocks the notion of childhood innocence. We don’t treat children like children any more. We treat them like something they’re not: adults.”
And he cautioned that “premature sexualisation gives children incorrect notions of healthy sex and relationship dynamics”.
Accepting that internet-connected devices “have brought entertainment and education”, he also warned that they have “erased the boundaries between the child and adult worlds”.
Unhealthy sexual norms
The Prime Minister’s former strategy adviser, who worked in Downing Street until 2012, said: “We need to better police the border between children and technology, because unconstrained access to the internet prematurely exposes children to unhealthy sexual norms and disturbs normal social interactions.”
“Let’s not blame ‘kids today’ for these trends”, he said, adding that it was adults’ fault for “failing to set up” sensible boundaries.
Hilton called for a ban on smartphones and tablets for children to “protect under-16s from unsupervised content”.
“They need the freedom to play, to interact in the world, to discover themselves. They don’t need the freedom to roam the internet,” he concluded.