A world where porn is only likely found in a magazine, secretly hidden in a closet or under the bed, doesn’t exist anymore. In this world, the Internet has emerged dominant.
Such a widespread access to sexual content has not only caught the concern of English Prime Minister, David Cameron, in recent statements, but also that of London-based My Sex Doctor app developer, Fabrizio Dolfi.
“A while ago, I read a piece about STDs—that many young people are embarrassed to go to the doctor when they realize that something is not right ‘down there,’” Said Dolphi. “…by the time they realize they have to see a medical professional, things have generally worsened.”
Concern for STDs, the reality of which pornography and other sources of media often mask, brought Dolfi to the idea of creating My Sex Doctor, a mobile app geared towards answering all the need-to-knows on sex and sexuality.
“The app covers all main aspects of sexuality, from body changes to sexual orientation, from flirting to relationships, from sexual acts to sexually transmitted diseases, from contraception to pregnancy,” said Dolfi.
From more than 2,000 sex-related questions surveyed, Dolfi narrowed the most representative questions down to 627 featured on the app’s full version.
“To provide the answers, I reached out to a friend, a PhD student in sexology and asked for his help and that of a few of his classmates. That phase alone took more than one year.“
Nevertheless, as well as having no medical background, Dolfi’s app claims no responsibility for its users.
“No more embarrassing conversations with parents or other adults. No more endless sessions of online reading material, one is not even sure it can be trusted,” said Dolfi, who also expressed that he has little faith in parents or public education as an educator.
“Sex Education programs constantly fail young people, being inadequate and too focused on biology and diseases,” said Dolfi.
Aside from making up for the gaps in the public school system’s current sex education curriculum, Dolfi wanted to address the potential pitfalls of parents with this app.
“Parents generally say too little and too late. There is the general tendency among parents to consider their children still too young for this issue,” said Dolfi. “This is particularly true for this generation where the exponential growth in smartphone ownership among teen has given them access to adult content—and I’m not just referring to porn—way sooner than the previous generation.
“I am totally pro-parents discussing sex with their children, I think they would be the ideal candidates to do so. If they do it properly and at the right time, they would be way more effective than sex education programs in schools or dedicated internet sites or mobile apps.
According to Dolfi, an unpreparedness and cultural stigma against openly discussing sexual matters is what adds to lack of reliable information on sexuality.
As far as what governments can do to improve parental controls, policies, such as those that limit unwanted viewing of pornographic material, according to Dolfi, can only do so much.
“Although I wouldn’t mind if porn on the net was less abundant and freely available, I think that the best way to protect young and unprepared people against the potential damaging effect that porn can do to them is to educate them. Any attempt to patrol it’s content, although driven by good intention, can later by used by someone else to limit freedom,” said Dolfi.
While conscientious of maintaining the freedom of the net, new “opt-in” policies currently being discussed in England do not limit the legal content available, but instead make viewing a conscious choice by the viewer.
Regardless of how to solve the issue, according to the center for disease control nearly one half of all newly contracted STDs are among youth.
“It is important that we also start paying attention to where young people find the information they need to fill the gaps in their sex education, and what effect that has on their sexual life and ultimately their health,” said Dolfi.