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Sex therapist warns 'aggressive, violent' porn warping Kiwi kids' views on sex

A sex therapist has warned about the changing online landscape when it comes to pornography and how it's affecting Kiwi youth exposed to it.

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A lot has changed since the days of Playboy magazines hidden under the mattress Jo Robertson says. Source: Q+A

Jo Robertson is the lead researcher for the Light Project, a charitable trust set up to help communities navigate the new porn environment.

She told TVNZ1's Q+A programme that pornography has become less story focussed over the years, and now features "short bursts of video, which are often aggressive, violent and almost always demeaning to women".

Her comments come as Acting Principal Youth Court Judge Tony FitzGerald says sexual offending by young people is being influenced by the easy access to extreme online pornography.

"My impression is that sexual offending by teenage boys in particular often seems to follow from them having viewed extreme pornography in an unrestricted environment," Judge FitzGerald said in a statement.

"It appears as though they come to view that material as representing normal sexual behaviour, and then act out their fantasies on the victims of their offending who are often vulnerable children and young people close to them.

"The problem seems to be growing, though it may not be captured in the way statistics are recorded," he concluded.

Ms Robertson told Q+A host Jack Tame that young Kiwis may not even be searching for porn when they are exposed to it online.

"They're not being bad kids, they're not searching out stuff where we would think, 'Why are you even looking for that?'

"Forty-four per cent of young New Zealanders came across material on a non-porn site, so they weren't on a porn site or searching for 'what is sex?'

"They were on a streaming site, or a game, or YouTube and there was an advert that asked them to click through," Ms Robertson says.

She also warned that there has been a rise in pornography videos featuring incest fantasies on sites such as Pornhub. This kind of content "confuses" young people and warps their view of sex, Ms Robertson says.

Children's Minister Tracey Martin is considering new legislation around access to online porn.

Ms Robertson would like to see age verification among the new laws as well as more education for young people.

Q+A is on TVNZ1 on Mondays at 9.30pm, and the episode is then available on TVNZ OnDemand and as a podcast in all the usual places.