Digital Economy

Part of Uk-EU Negotiations – in the House of Commons at 8:01 pm on 17th December 2018.

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Photo of Drew Hendry Drew Hendry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 8:01 pm, 17th December 2018

I believe that all of us in the Chamber tonight want to find common ground and a common way forward. I thank the Minister for her very thorough exposition of the issues in her speech and the Opposition Front Bench spokesperson, Liam Byrne, for covering a lot of the issues in such detail that I will not need to go over them again. I will keep my remarks very short, so that other Members have the opportunity to participate in the debate.

Currently, it is too easy for our children to access explicit material online. Young people today are growing up in an age where information is readily available to them at the touch of a button. That can be a very good thing, of course, as a terrific aid to learning. However, it also means that children can be exposed to explicit materials either in error or because they are simply curious. We have a duty to ensure that all that can be done should be done to protect them.

Studies have shown that when children and young people are exposed to sexually explicit material, they are at a greater risk of developing: unrealistic attitudes about sex and consent; more negative attitudes towards roles, identities and relationships; more casual attitudes towards sex and sexual relationships; and an increase in risky sexual behaviour. They also develop unrealistic expectations of body image and performance. Access to genuine educational material is important, but we must ensure that we take these measures to protect children and young people.

The Scottish National party supports measures that will protect children from exposure to pornographic material online. It is only right that there is a requirement that a person making available pornographic material online on a commercial basis to persons in the United Kingdom should ensure that such material is not normally accessible by persons under the age of 18. As I said in my opening remarks, it is currently too easy for children to access explicit adult content on their phones and computers. There is much work to do, especially in the area of social media, and many challenges listed tonight that are still to be addressed, but we support the measures that, as a start, aim to protect our children in a digital age.