August 12, 2009

Survey Reveals Children Search Sex, Porn On The Web

As children grow up with the Internet at their fingertips, they entertain themselves with videos, games, social networking sites, and even porn, according to computer security firm Symantec.

Symantec was able to identify the top 100 searches conducted between February and July through its family safety service OnlineFamily.Norton, which is used to monitor the Internet habits of both children and teenagers.

The firm found that the most popular search term was for the Google owned video sharing website YouTube, with the fictional Internet celebrity character Fred Figglehorn - popular with children - coming in ninth place in the top searches.

"Seeing YouTube on top is no surprise," said Symantec Internet Safety Advocate Marian Merritt. "Kids use YouTube as a starting place for entertainment as well as for education purposes."

Search engine giant Google was the second most popular search term, followed by social networking site Facebook ranking third and MySpace ranking fifth. Search engine Yahoo came seventh on the list.

What is more disturbing is that the words "sex" and "porn" were listed as the fourth and sixth most searched words in the top 10.

Merritt says the list reveals a great need for parents to up the awareness of their children's online activities.

"Any of us who have been teenagers are not surprised kids look for information about sex," she said. "I think we have all gotten over our shock that the Internet has porn."

She added, "It also helps identify teachable moments",  when parents could discuss appropriate online behavior and other aspects of the online lives of their kids.

According to Symantec, OnlineFamily.Norton has provided parents using the service with more than 90 million "teachable moments" with their children since its start in 2009.

Symantec put the list together after surveying 3.5 million searches made by the OnlineFamily.Norton, which allows parents to observe what children are searching and who they are talking to on instant messaging and what social networks they are using.

The monitoring service does not secretly spy, but rather announces its presence onscreen and shows animated dog characters to warn children that they are about to go into sites forbidden by their parents.

Among the other top searched terms were Michael Jackson, eBay, Wikipedia, Miley Cyrus who plays Hannah Montana in the popular Disney series, Taylor Swift, Webkinz, Club Penguin, and the Black Eyed Peas' song "Boom Boom Pow."


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