back to article Poll: Porn-watching, net-savvy kids are a myth

Parents who think their tearaway hacking kiddies are seeing all sorts of things they shouldn't online are buying into some of the top myths about children on the web, according to a new report. EU Kids Online, a research project based at the London School of Economics and Political Science, talked to kids across Europe about …


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  1. Eddie Edwards

    You're kidding?

    Even tech-ignorant kids around 15-16 are able to use proxy servers to access Facebook etc. at school when they're not supposed to. Maybe they didn't understand the question.

  2. Sir Runcible Spoon


    report:Most kids not looking at porn

    report card:Must try harder

  3. Toastan Buttar
    Thumb Up

    Surprisingly effective screening

    Given the availability of pr0n online, I think it speaks volumes for Google's Safe Search that only 1-in-7 kids had seen sexual images in the past year. My kids use Google Image Search all the time for school work and I can't recall ever seeing dubious material appearing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > only 1-in-7 kids had seen sexual images

      Only 1 in 7 *admitted* to seeing sexual images in a survey. There is a big difference.

      The same applies to the question about the filters. Of course they said 'no'; admitting it would get them barred from the pc and they would lose access to all that pr0n.

      1. Dave Bell

        Statistics & Survey Design

        This is an old problem in designing a survey. Partly, you ask different questions than the obvious. Partly you try to convince the people you're asking that teachers or parents will not see the answers.

  4. George Brown
    Paris Hilton

    Well my 16 year old stepbrother and all his mates have never been cyberbullied but all know what redtube is.

    1. lpopman

      Because you told him about RT, amirite?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Yeah, anyone who has ever worked with kids will know that most really know fuck all about the Internet other than how to browse it, do a bit of Facebook and Youtube etc.

    It goes further than the Internet too, their whole concept and understanding of IT is shit for the most part. Sure they know how to use a PC, but they don't understand how it works. That is down to the piss poor IT (sorry ICT - aghh) courses taught in schools these days.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      as an ex (history) teacher, kids really dont know that much about IT. They realised that they could play flash games and then minimise the screen, and the smarter ones changed the monitor screen size to hide the windows task bar, but i had them completely stumped by magically bringing back the last open program (i'd pressed alt and tab), it took them months to figure that one out (plenty of detention time, u dont get away with playing flash games in my classroom)!

      1. Diogenes

        And as a current ICT teacher I second AC's comment. I have just installed Italc on the computers in the lab & am looking forward to seeing their reaction when school goes back on the 10th - pinkie to mouth, bwahahaha bwahahahaha etc

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I myself only saw one naked image as a 15 year old boy in the space of the year, and had nothing to do with pornography...

    If I was them, I'd have dropped any mention of that part of the survey, because it's just puts doubt on the rest of it.

  7. Annihilator Silver badge


    1 in 7? I reckon it was higher than that when the Internet wasn't prevalent. We all remember our first view of hedge p0rn (by which I mean the joy of finding an inexplicably abandoned mag in a hedge as an adolescent).

    Maybe though, it's actually true and is due to the other myth that kids are so sexually active these days that p0rn doesn't interest them as they're all out getting the real thing. I await a hard-hitting documentary by Anna Richardson on one hand yelling at the world to stop exposing kids to sexualised content while on the other showing use full-frontal nudity under the guise of "education"... Hopefully sponsored by the Daily Mail.

    1. Elmer Phud


      You don't get much in the way of hedge porn these days. Is it yet another species that has been affected by global warming or maybe there's a more successful variant of the same species that's come from abroad?

      Something for Bill Oddie to look in to.

      1. lpopman

        titular amusement

        Ah yes, the good old days of hedgerow grumble :)

        Also, what ever happened to white dog turds?

        1. Simon Harris
          Thumb Up

          Computers, Kids and Porn.

          When I was at school, we didn't rely on hedgerows. One of my enterprising mates had the idea to obtain a large brown paper envelope and commandeering the school teletype, typed something along the lines of...

          "Dear Newsagent,

          Unfortunately I am unwell and cannot get out of the house. I would like to buy the current edition of Razzle*. I have sent my son round to collect it. Please can you put it into the envelope and seal it down as he is too young to read it. "

          * insert appropriate 1970s grumble-mag...

          Occasionally this ruse actually worked!

          1. Graham Marsden

            @Simon Harris

            Of course what was even better was when a mate's dad ran a newsagent and there was an occasional bit of "stock shrinkage"...

            ... erm allegedly...

        2. edge_e

          white dog turds died when BSE meant you couldn't buy bones from the butcher anymore.

        3. RegGuy

          Google tells me...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sounds familiar

      A popular US monthly compendium of condensed articles from other publications with very conservative social and political (think: bathroom reading at your grammy's) once launched a 2nd magazine dedicated entirely to "Family Values". The premiere episode was about teenage pregnancy and featured a provocative looking nymphette on the cover, eating an apple ("Eve", get it?) presumably in the early stages of pregnancy. The 2nd cover was about teenage sex, and looked like an Abercrombie & Fitch advert.....

    3. nyelvmark


      rotflmao. It's Pr0n, not P0rn. You must be REALLY OLD, maybe 30 or something.

      1. jake Silver badge


        Oh, I dunno. Could be a typo. It was initially p0rn, which my peers & I were using as a young 20-somethings back in the late '70s. The first "pr0n" usage that I'm aware of was on Usenet in roughly 1982 or '83, certainly well before TheGreatRenaming ... the author of the post got laughed at, but admitted the typo.

        Do you really think your age group invented hacking the English language? Might want to look into middle English and then go later back and read up on old English ... Or not. Suit yourself.

  8. pip25

    Excerpt from the report:

    "Promoting children’s online opportunities, including their right to communicate and their need to take some risks is important to counter simplistic calls for restricting children’s internet use. The ambition must be, instead, to maximise benefits (as defined by children as well as adults) while reducing harm (which is not necessarily the same as reducing risk)."

    Am I seeing things? A sane view of children and the net? I'm amazed.

    I do feel that some of the data is flawed (questioning the children at home face-to-face will not always "open them up" in my opinion, contrary to what the report claims), some points made sound surprisingly refreshing amidst all the usual panic.

  9. Chimombi

    Kids aren't thick

    Sure, cos kids are going to *admit* they're watching online grumble flicks?


    1. John Bailey

      Simple to eliminate.

      Room of kids.

      Stack of survey forms.

      Box of pens.

      Mu8ltiple choice questions where they tick the boxes.

      No way to tell who filled in which form.

      Now full disclosure is possible, and the answers are going to be as honest as the kids will entertain.

      Methinks you are a bit concerned about the survey not being the usual shock horror kiddies being exposed to hard core porn while looking for Sponge bob websites.

      To be honest. If anything, I'd expect kids to exaggerate. So it is quite possibly less.

  10. Semaj


    Sorry but I don't believe that.

    I know that all of my friends who had net growing up (and me for that matter) used to look at porn. And it made no difference to us at all :P But then boys always find porn, even if it's a stolen dirty mag or whatever.

    1. Turtle_Fan

      Why is pr0n a problem... the first place?

      If my lad wants to drool over it it's fine by me esp. after he's 10.

      Compared to being a bigot or a bully, I'd take pr0n any day. After all, those teenage hormones and stresses need some relief (pun intended) instead of stifling them until they become destructive and uncontrollable.

      Best bit is about how conversation and listening puts most of the problems in order. This I need to work on harder.

      1. Semaj
        Thumb Up

        Exactly my point - it did no harm to me or my mates at all. If anything it just made me totally accepting of other people's choices.

        It's a really good point about the stifling too - it's so bizarre that as a society we totally shield anyone under 16 from the real world and responsibility then when they turn feral we wonder why.

        Still - sounds like you have the right idea - it's nice to see that not everyone is totally illogical :)

  11. jake Silver badge

    Paraphrasing ...

    Kids obfuscate, and their computer illiterate parents are oblivious.

    Seems nothing's changed in thirty years ...

    1. Naughtyhorse

      'cept the pr0n is _much_ better

      1. jake Silver badge


        No, it's not. It's EXACTLY the same. Really. People haven't changed as a race in thirty years, nor have the odds & ends that they find titillating. It might be more available, and/or easier to access, but trust me, your Granddad had access to porn. So did his father. And his father. Try to remember, I *am* a grandfather ...

        When we were going through my Grandad's things, we found a daguerreotype of my Grandmother, naked, and in an almost shockingly pornographic pose. It was accompanied by a quite steamy letter, sent to him, by her, from "the old country". The letter indicated that she quite missed having sex with him, going into some detail, and hoped to join him in California in a year or two. According to the date on the letter, Grandma was only 14 in the photo ... She joined him here when she was 17, and they were married for 70+ years before she passed away.

        Needless to say, we buried him with the photo & letter in his breast pocket. Seemed fitting, somehow. We have a scan of the letter, but couldn't bring ourselves to scan the photo ... Far too personal.

        1. Anonymous Coward 15

          Far too personal

          And probably illegal.

          1. jake Silver badge

            @Anonymous Coward 15

            No, not illegal.

            Grandfathered in, as it were ...

  12. Zog The Undeniable

    I weep for the younger generation, if that's the best they can do.

    Seriously, a friend who's a state school teacher had to deal with the problem of Taleban beheading videos being passed round his pupils; considerably worse than bongo clips, in my opinion.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Taliban videos

      Seriously - I'd rather have my son seeing some crazy German bondage fetish shit (ahem) than the beheading / torture / injury vids. The former either turn you on (and if it does, that ship already sailed) or makes you rethink Germany's defacto leadership position in the EU; the latter seriously fucks you up. I've never sought it out (sometimes it comes up during searches for Spongebob) but it's profoundly horrifying if you have any empathy at all.

      Of course, I'd rather that my son not be watching the crazy German bondage fetish shit (ahem). He's three, and that's way too young to be exposed to things like the EU.

  13. Joefish

    A European wide survey tells us exactly what about our kids?

    That a lot of them don't use proper english?

  14. Piro Silver badge

    I don't know..

    When I was younger I certainly accessed naughty material in the form of 256 colour gif and jpegs handed around on a floppy disk.

    The internet came later. Ah, the joys..

    1. Simon Harris

      256 colours? Thee were lucky!

      When I were'lad the first naughty coloured picture I saw on a computer was on a BBC Micro's 8 colour 160x256 pixel screen (I think I was 17 when I saw that!)

      Before that the only naughty pictures I'd seen from a computer had been printed on a teletype.

  15. heyrick Silver badge

    1 in 7?

    I guess it depends a lot on the view of what the child considers pornographic. Example, at boarding school (in the '80s) there were numerous issues of certain well-known publications, with pictures of women all in remarkably similar poses. There were also copy-of-copy-of-copy (repeat: until false) of VHS recordings of what amounted to little more than bluey-grey "noise" patterns and grunting. While technically it would be classed as "pornography", my thoughts were "meh". When I get around to it, I'll find myself a real girl. Until then, I would class porn as a very poor substitute.

    Having said this, it is worth looking at the statistic from the other way around. One in seven is quite a low number (assuming they fessed up), but on the other hand that's four in a class of thirty...

  16. Bradley Hardleigh-Hadderchance

    So little Timmy..

    ..You don't ever jump out of your window at night to go to those nasty places I told you not to go to, do you?

    Little Timmy: "No, I would NEVER do that!"

    Well, that's ok then.

    Little Timmy (under his breath): "Sucker!".

    As for the hedge porn, anyone else used to go 'hedge-hunting' ?...

    Happy days.

  17. heyrick Silver badge

    I got a good score in RSA CLAIT IT in 1990

    ...and that was with skipping most of the lessons. I signed up for CS but the teacher that came in wasn't qualified to teach CS so we were grouped into IT. Oh yes, "how to use a word processor" and "how to use a database". Given I had *written* a database for the BBC Micro, ported it to RISC OS, and was working on ARM code for speeding up some of the creeping featuritis, and bashed off an entire user guide in EdWord (later venerable !Edit ;) ), I didn't think that attending "IT" and discovering how little the teacher understood Econet and networking in general would have done me much good. So I went back up to the dorm to cut some code... but somehow usually ended up playing Interdictor. Oh well.

    It'll be good to see "programming" introduced back into education, for there are numerous disciplines you have to grasp before you can even get to writing code - the main ones being to *understand* the problem and to break it down into chunks which can be attacked a bit at a time. How to devise alternatives, for sometimes the most obvious method is not the best. Not to mention the concept of modularisation so code can be reused instead of rewriting the same thing over and over (which means defining a decent API so the module isn't too quirky or specific to the first program you wrote it for). There is so much ground to cover before we ever get to #include <stdio.h>...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When the web was less readily available, those kids that *were* into it were inevitably more clued up, especially when it wasn't as trendy to stay in on the computer all night...

    Now everybody has access in all sorts of ways, the balance is being restored somewhat.

  19. Jess

    I'm concerned - with all that porn out there..

    .. all my 16 year old looks at is games sites.

  20. jaycee331

    "Nine per cent met someone offline whom they'd first met online "


    Am I the only one thinking that's quite alarming?

    So nearly 10% of these so-called savvy kids have arranged in life meetings with a stranger off the back of online chat and a true or fake profile...

    1. Old Handle

      I admit that's higher than I would have expected, but I don't know that it's necessarily cause for alarm. Alot of the time, that could mean a friend-of-a-friend, not a total stranger. And it did say most didn't go alone, which in some cases could even mean their parents were there. Anyway, it's a sign of the times I guess. Now that the internet fully mainstream, I expect people will think of it more and more as just another way to know people, rather than making a sharp distinction between online and offline friends.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This is all assuming that those kids spoke the truth. I know times have changed but in my days I felt pretty comfortable talking about pr0n and such with my friends, but some grown up stranger? Gimme a break; that's the kind of stuff my parents warned me about!

  22. Herby

    Porn? Porn!!

    You mean to tell me that there is Porn on the internet? Why how could it be? Couldn't there be a way to turn off the internet, it must be "dangerous"! Where is the off switch!!

  23. veti Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    What "myths" are being dispelled here?

    So... one-third of kids, by their own report, can circumvent the restrictions that their parents think they've applied to their internet use?


    And 9% have met up IRL with someone they first met online? NINE FREAKIN' PERCENT?

    I don't quite see that putting "only" in front of these numbers makes them small.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Errrmmmm ...

      I frequently meet with people I have previously only had contact with online. Having just moved house, almost all the people I have met in my new area have come from online or phone contact. Seriously, people these days rarely meet others through anything other than remote contact first, so the figure for adults must be way more than 9%, so what exactly is your point, veti?

  24. Josh 15

    "...For example, while parents worry more about 'stranger danger', children find cyberbullying the most upsetting risk."

    So, can we finally disband CEOP and that other police-led ship of fools, the IWF? After a decade or more of being continually bullied (and censored) about 'stranger danger' online we finally see the lies exposed by an independent third party with no vested interest in promoting the same old tired, sensationalist propaganda (which was always utterly baseless, not that you'd have found many journalists bothering to ask).

    Ah well, CEOP have already thankfully been neutered by Theresa May - she just needs to finish the job now. I don't see so many examples of gobshite police officers all over the TV and radio shouting about 'global networks' of 'online predators' these days (not like the good old Jim Gamble days). CEOP was a nice job creation scheme for ex-coppers while it lasted, but it gets real tricky to justify a £12million pa budget when your number one target simply disappears off the radar (if it was ever there in the first place).

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    F*cking block/unfriend buttons, how do they work?

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