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Billie Eilish: ‘Watching pornography destroyed my brain’

Online Safety
15 December 2021
Billie Eilish

Grammy Award-winning singer Billie Eilish has described how she was deeply harmed by pornography, which she first started watching at just 11 years old.

In an interview with an American broadcaster, Eilish, now 19, said: “I think porn is a disgrace. I used to watch a lot of porn, to be honest. I started watching porn when I was 11”.

“I think it really destroyed my brain and I feel incredibly devastated that I was exposed to so much porn”, she added.

In 2016, a pioneering study commissioned by the NSPCC and the Children’s Commissioner for England found that around 53 per cent of 11- 16-year-olds had seen graphic porn online and 94 per cent had viewed adult content by the time they were just 14 years old.

In total 1,001 children aged between 11-16 years old were questioned and the survey found 65 per cent of 15-16-year-olds had viewed porn, as had 28 per cent of 11–12-year-olds.

At the time, CARE warned that: "We cannot sit back and allow the rising generation of children to be robbed of their childhoods because of a largely unregulated porn industry.”

CARE campaigned for age verification measures to prevent children from accessing pornography sites.

These measures were agreed by a majority of parliamentarians in 2017, as part of the Digital Economy Act. However, enactment was delayed, then abandoned in 2019.

The government is now considering age verification as part of its online safety proposals. However, this may not be approved for several years, if at all.

Commenting on the prospect of more time without this protection earlier this month, Vanessa Morse, CEO of anti-exploitation charity CEASE, said:

“Make no mistake, porn sites are not neutral or naive. They are actively engaging all users, including children, through data surveillance, SEO and algorithms, to get them to stay on their sites and return more often because this makes them money.”

She added: “It is unconscionable that the government is delaying age verification until the online safety bill comes into force when it could be brought in now.”

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Online Safety

For children and young people, access to harmful online content is only a click away. CARE is working towards a society where they are as well-protected online as they are offline.

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