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Louisiana Passed the First Porn Age Verification Law in the U.S.—Will Other States Follow?

Louisiana passed the first porn age verification law, requiring any website containing 33.3% or more porn material to verify the users' age.

The legality of porn varies from country to country. In some countries, like many in the Middle East and eastern Asia, it is completely illegal to look at or distribute porn. No restrictions exist in others, such as Argentina, Belgium, and Brazil.

The U.S., however, finds itself somewhere in the middle. Generally, people can purchase or access porn legally. With that said, it is illegal to knowingly distribute porn to minors under the age of 18.

While this law, in theory, protects minors, restricting viewership is much more difficult in practice. Underage exposure happens differently with kids today. Where their parents may have first been exposed to porn through a magazine or VHS or DVD video, kids today have much easier access to pornography; where before people would have to go out of their way to seek our porn, today we have to go out of our way to avoid it.

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Without downloading parental control software to devices and purchasing products that restrict viewership of porn, the only thing to stand in the way of a minor accessing the material in the U.S. is clicking a button to say you are 18 or over. And, surprise, surprise, that’s not very difficult.

Louisiana, however, is the first state in the United States that has passed age-verification laws to help combat underage exposure.

Louisiana passed the first U.S. porn age verification law

On January 1, 2023, House Bill 142 (now Act 440) was passed in Louisiana, requiring any website containing 33.3% or more porn material to verify the users’ age and therefore preventing children from being exposed to harmful content.

Using an application called L.A. Wallet, a porn consumer in Louisiana would have to input information for a state I.D. or driver’s license to prove they are indeed 18 years of age or older. The legislation says that sites that don’t comply may face civil lawsuits from parents who claim their children viewed “material harmful to minors.”

Related: These 16 U.S. States Passed Resolutions Recognizing Porn as a Public Health Issue

With lawmakers and legislators from many states in the U.S. calling porn use a “public health crisis,” it’s unsurprising to see 11 states introducing copycat bills with similar scope and a solid chance of getting passed. And then other states, like Texas, Oregon, and South Carolina, are expressing interest in proposing similar laws.

With the introduction of similar bills, it’s clear what legislators think of age verification for porn, but what does the public think?

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The public’s reaction to the porn age verification law

Like most things, the public’s response to the porn age verification law is mixed. The primary debate regarding the porn age verification bill surrounds whether or not this bill is an invasion of privacy.

Some would say this bill is an example of government overreach and that the law isn’t specific enough regarding how long entities get to wait before they have to delete the identifying information after granting access.

Related: Why Fight the New Drug’s Goal Doesn’t Involve Banning Porn

Others, like the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), a nonprofit that fights sexual abuse and exploitation, argue that “robust methods for online age verification exist which are very adept at safeguarding personal privacy.”

While we at FTND are not on a mission to ban legal forms of pornography, we do support efforts to protect children from accessing porn sites, as well as efforts to stop the production and spread of child abuse imagery, and we support the fight against sex trafficking.

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Understand the effects of underage exposure to porn

Research shows pornography negatively impacts adolescents’ mental, social, and sexual health. In 2014, psychiatry professor Valerie Voon at the University of Cambridge conducted the first major study of porn’s impact on the brain. Researchers scanned the brains of young males who had reported compulsive porn habits. The men’s brain activity mirrored that of drug addicts viewing images of drugs when they saw pornographic images. Moreover, the reward centers of the men in the study who used porn compulsively didn’t light up to normal exciting activities like money, or exciting spots in the same way the centers lit up to porn.

Related: Understanding Underage Exposure to Porn and Its Effects

In addition to altering brain chemistry, a meta-analysis of 22 studies from seven countries showed porn’s connection to more sexist attitudes and gender-stereotypical sexual beliefs. And in a 2017 study at the University of Nebraska, heterosexual undergrad students exposed to porn at younger ages tended to agree more with statements regarding dominance and power over women in intimate relationships.

Adolescent pornography consumption is associated with poor self-image, increased insecurity, lower life satisfaction, psychosomatic symptoms, depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts.

We could go on and on—but you get the point.

Beyond porn age verification bills

Porn is harmful, and we hope age verification can serve as a tool to protect minors. However, as mentioned earlier, more is needed than just an I.D.

Even with mandated age verification, underage exposure to porn would still be likely to happen given ways around age verification (i.e. inputting the I.D. of someone 18 or older or using a VPN service that hides the physical location of your I.P.).

It’s important for parents to talk to their kids about what porn is and keep the conversation open, honest, and loving.

Related: Parents: What’s Better than Internet Filters? Direct Conversations About Porn

Think about talking with your kids about porn earlier than you might have initially thought. Whether they’re teenagers or elementary schoolers, there are ways to discuss internet porn in age-appropriate ways.

Every day, we get dozens of messages from people all over the world who are looking to navigate successful conversations about porn with their parents, children, partner, friends, or strangers. This is why we’ve created an interactive, step-by-step conversation guide website, Let’s Talk About Porn.

For younger ones, consider children’s books on the topic, such as Good Pictures Bad Pictures, authored by Kristen A. Jenson. A junior version is also available for younger children.

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Keep your kids safer online

Bark is the internet safety solution that parents trust and children like, if you can believe it.

Bark is an easy-to-use, smart tool that parents can use to help protect their children online. Bark uses a highly advanced algorithm to alert parents when it detects potential threats or signs of danger, such as:

Cyberbullying

Internet Predators

Depression

Suicidal Thoughts

Sexting

Bark is a common-sense tool that can augment a parent’s efforts to protect their children online. Parents trust Bark because it uses advanced technologies to alert them to potential online dangers without them reading through all of their child’s online activities, preserving their valuable time (and sanity). Kids like Bark because they are free to continue their daily digital lives without their parents constantly peering over their shoulders.

You can start protecting your children online today by clicking here and signing up for a free 30-day trial.

Keep your kids safer online

Bark is the internet safety solution that parents trust and children like, if you can believe it. Bark is an easy-to-use, smart tool that parents can use to help protect their children online.

Bark uses a highly advanced algorithm to alert parents when it detects potential threats or signs of danger, such as:

  • Cyberbullying
  • Internet Predators
  • Depression
  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Sexting

Bark is a common-sense tool that can augment a parent's efforts to protect their children online. Parents trust Bark because it uses advanced technologies to alert them to potential online dangers without them reading through all of their child's online activities, preserving their valuable time (and sanity). Kids like Bark because they are free to continue their daily digital lives without their parents constantly peering over their shoulders.

You can start protecting your children online today! Try Bark for FREE for 30 days, or get your teen or tween the Bark Phone with Bark's parental controls built-in!

Try Bark Free

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