Prepaid cards offer teens access to online porn

Unbeknownst to Israelis who are away on vacation this month, their adolescent children back home may be indulging in a new teenage sport - viewing har

By TALYA HALKIN
October 20, 2005 02:44
4 minute read.

Unbeknownst to Israelis who are away on vacation this month, their adolescent children back home may be indulging in a new teenage sport - viewing hard-core pornography movies that have recently become easily accessible from an Israeli web site. The movies can be purchased by means of a prepaid card, which facilitates access for interested viewers who do not possess their own credit cards, or who do not want the nature of the expense to show up on their credit card bill. The card, which was first distributed several weeks ago, is now available for sale in over one hundred kiosks throughout the country whose names and addresses are listed at the new Israeli pornography site. The site also recruits additional kiosk owners by inviting them to become distributors in areas where the card is not yet distributed, such as Jerusalem and Ashdod. Mati Alper, a marketing expert who teachers at the Israeli branch of Derby University, first caught on to the card and the site it caters to when he heard it discussed casually by a number of teenagers. "Despite the fact that this marketing strategy is not original, the use it is being put to is incredible," Alper told The Jerusalem Post. "This enterprise simply avoids the barrier that most teenagers have in terms of their access to such sites - that is, the use of a credit card or the need to make a phone call that costs a tremendous amount of money." While teenagers are obviously a main target audience of this new site it nevertheless maintains its legal status by stating that it is accessible only to users over 18. Ironically, its homepage even provides a link to a set of instructions on how to limit Internet access on home computers. The instructions were created for the National Day for Internet Safety, and are supported by the Education Ministry and the Israeli Police, among others. Nevertheless, Alper said, teenagers have reported that they had no problem buying the prepaid cards at the kiosks that sell them. "The result is parties during which kids get together and instead of renting a video, download these movies to their PCs or onto the TV screen, and watch them together while their parents are away over the holidays," he said. Alper also noted that a quick examination of the previews offered by the site indicate that its hard-core nature by far exceeds that of many other pornography sites available online. "It's worrisome because it is totally accessible and cheap. It's an example of people using their marketing skills to exploit children," Alper said. Furthermore, he added, that the instructions for blocking the site to young users were completely ludicrous, since most Internet-savvy children and adolescents "can still access blocked sites within approximately four minutes." Alper said he agreed with other education and Internet experts, such as University of Haifa professor Azy Barak, who argue that the real battle against such sites cannot be waged through attempts at blocking them. Rather, Alper said, it must be fought through raising the awareness of both parents and teachers so they can cope with the problem by broaching the subject directly with young Internet users. One such innovative program, recently offered to teachers at the Gordon Education College in Haifa, taught them how to overcome embarrassment and talk to their students about online pornography and the distorted images of sexuality and relationships that it presents. An informal survey of two kiosks in central Tel Aviv, however, revealed that the cards may not be selling as well as parents and educators may fear. The young saleswoman at the Chocolate kiosk on Allenby Street in an area frequented by teenagers shook her head in dismay when asked about the card and said she had never heard of it, even though the kiosk is listed on the clickcard website as one of the purveyors of the cards. A salesman at the Millennium kiosk, across the street, said that much to his disappointment, the card was not selling well at all. "I've had it for about three weeks, but I haven't sold a single card all week," he said, shaking his head. Although its sales were potentially lucrative, the salesman believed the card suffered from a lack of publicity. "It's like releasing a new energy drink without advertising it," he said.


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