Computer games and porn forcing kids to be 'too sexy too soon'

19th February 2010 at 00:00
Government-commissioned psychologist warns girls are highly sexualised and boys are over-masculinised from a young age

Computer games, easily accessible pornography and T-shirts with sex-related slogans are ensuring that schoolchildren are highly sexualised from an early age, a forthcoming government report will warn.

Linda Papadopoulos, clinical psychologist and reader at London Metropolitan University, was commissioned by the Home Office to write a report into the sexualisation of children and teenagers.

Her findings, which will be published at the end of this month, were previewed this week at a seminar at the London-based Institute of Education.

The report will reveal that girls are desperate to please boys, while boys feel pressured to sleep with multiple women.

It will also include a series of recommendations, such as placing age restrictions on the purchase of lads' magazines such as Zoo and Nuts.

And it will suggest a symbol identifying adverts and magazine spreads that have been airbrushed.

"Often, we are so manipulated by our surroundings that we don't know why we want what we want any more," Dr Papadopoulos told the seminar.

"Little boys are always told, 'aren't you clever, aren't you strong?' Little girls are told, 'aren't you pretty?' even in 2010. They are adhering to what society expects and internalising behaviours."

For example, she said, computer games regularly include heavily sexualised content. Miss Bimbo, a game for girls, is won by accumulating boob jobs and marrying a billionaire. By contrast, Grand Theft Auto allows you to hit a prostitute with a bat and steal her money.

Meanwhile, legal porn films show older men sleeping with flat-chested women in children's underwear. Many focus on non-consensual sex.

"We know that children get these on their mobile phones," Dr Papadopoulos said. "It's on the internet: they don't even need to seek it out.

"It's a drip-drip effect. Look at porn stars, and look at how an average girl looks now. It's seeped into everyday: fake breasts, fuck-me shoes."

In a recent study of 1,000 girls, 60 per cent said that glamour- modelling was their ideal career. A quarter said that they would ideally become lap-dancers.

Girls now wear T-shirts with the slogan "porn star" across the chest; parents put babies in bibs reading "all daddy wanted was a blow job".

"Taboos have been pushed back so far," Dr Papadopoulos said. "They're taking their script directly from pornography.

"We are hypersexualising girls, telling them that their desirability relies on being desired. They want to please at any cost. And we are hypermasculinising boys. Many feel that they can't live up to the porn ideal, sleeping with lots of women.

"You get a sense that politicians think it's a soft issue, something for Woman's Hour. But it's not a soft issue.

"If I'm constantly told that a sexy girl is one who satisfies a lot of men, do I really have a choice? If I'm chased by a lion, do I really have a choice but to run?"

Sex is all around us

Sexualised products that children are exposed to:

- Babies' bibs reading "All daddy wanted was a blow job"

- T-shirts with the slogan "porn-star"

- Push-up bras marketed to pubescent girls

- Lads' mags, featuring semi-nude women

- Miss Bimbo, a computer game for girls involving a race to marry a billionaire

- Grand Theft Auto, a game that allows you to hit a prostitute with a bat and steal her money

- RapeLay, a computer game involving stalking a woman and her daughters

- Japanese anime cartoons, featuring monsters with several penises

- Porn films, in which physically undeveloped "18-year-olds" are forced to have sex with much older men.

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