More children are exposed to online porn, study says

Researchers say that much more needs to be done in terms of reining in those exploiting pornography online

Children as young as 10 and 11 are increasingly being exposed to online pornography -- and usually by accident, according to a new university study being published Monday.

The University of New Hampshire researchers found that 42 percent of 10- to 17-year-olds surveyed said they had seen online porn during a recent 12-month span. Two-thirds of those who viewed pornography said they did so accidentally while surfing the Web, according to the survey, conducted between March and June 2005.

The number of those seeing unwanted nude or sexual images increased about 25 percent from a survey conducted five years earlier, according to an Associated Press story on the report.

Better than one-third of 16- and 17-year-old boys said they intentionally visited porn sites over the past year, while 8 percent of girls that age said they did, according to the Associated Press report. "Wanted exposure rates were higher for teens, boys, and youth who used file-sharing programs to download images, talked online to unknown persons about sex, used the Internet at friends' homes," according to an abstract of the survey.

The researchers found that filtering and other such tactics to prevent young people from seeing porn online are somewhat effective, but that much more needs to be done in terms of reining in those exploiting such content online.

The University of New Hampshire conducted the telephone survey of 1,500 youngsters through its Crimes Against Children Research Center. Results of the study, "Unwanted and wanted exposure to online pornography in a national sample of youth Internet users," are being published in the February edition of the journal Pediatrics.

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