New Zealand's cheeky ad campaign urges parents to talk to kids about online porn

Can you get through to kids -- and their parents -- in order to get them to pay attention to online safety? How about getting naked porn stars to appear at their door?

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Anything to get the point across.

Screenshot by ZDNet

Who'd be a parent at a time like this?

Not only do you have to find new reserves of tolerance, as you try to educate your kids at home, but you also have to pay extra attention to the websites they frequent. And the apps.

Bad actors lurk everywhere, not just in porn.

Talking of which, New Zealand's enlightened government thought it would take a lighter, but penetratingly incisive approach to getting parents and kids to reconsider online safety, with the help of an ad featuring two naked porn stars.

These two fine physical specimens arrive at the door of a typical house and ring the doorbell.

I should add that these are not -- at least as far as my extensive, educational online searching tells me -- real porn stars. Still, they could undoubtedly pass, at least as far as the director of this ad allows viewers to observe.

The ad is one of a series in a campaign called Keep It Real Online. It tackles cyberbullying, online grooming, and content of a dubious and potentially dangerous kind.

The porn stars, who go by the names Sue and Derek, explain to mom that her little angel Matty has "just looked them up online."

They explain to the stunned mom that Matty watches them "on his laptop, iPad, Playstation, his phone, your phone, SmartTV projector."

And that, for some parents, is the difficult reality. Kids are extremely adept at maneuvering their way around gadgets without their parents noticing.

What the kids see can be something they don't entirely grasp. As Sue explains to mom: "Your son's just a kid. He might not know actually how relationships work. We don't even talk about consent do we? We just get straight to it." 

Derek adds that he'd never behave in real life the way he does in porn videos.

At this point, Matty emerges, laptop in one hand, and cereal bowl in the other. The image conjured there is truly disturbing.

Mom, of course, is understanding: "All right Matty. It sounds like it's time to have a talk about the difference of what you see online and real-life relationships. No judgement."

It's in those words -- and the manner in which mom utters them -- that the best advice lies. This is not what a parent wants to discover, even if it's something they fear.

The advice here is to not get excitable and instead have a reasoned chat about life's realities with your child. 

The problem for parents right now -- at least in many countries -- is that they're under heightened levels of stress, during a pandemic that many thought was the stuff of movies, rather than real life.

You might think, then, that the subject is not one for laughter.

But that's the thing with kids, though. You have to use many different tones to get through to them.

Actually, it's the same with many parents too.