SAN FRANCISCO—Symantec Corporation, long familiar for its seminal protection software Norton Anti-Virus, also runs a service, OnlineFamily.Norton, which allows parents who subscribe to it to track their kids' internet activities, and to warn kids when their searches are straying into the forbidden territory of the "house rules" the parents set up.
But since this is the modern age, Symantec also keeps a record of what its subscribers' kids are searching for on the Web, and—surprise, surprise!—about one-fifth of what they search for is sex or sex-related.
How do we know? Because Symantec has just released a list of its Top 100 searches conducted by "children"—ages not specified, though the service is supposedly geared towards kids aged 8 to 13—from February to July of this year; a list compiled from 3.5 million searches by the service's registered users.
And wouldn't 'cha know it: "Sex" is No. 4, and "porn" is No. 6.
Not surprisingly, the top search is YouTube, with Google, Facebook and MySpace filling out the top five, but sex and sexual subjects can be found throughout the list.
Of course, the obvious ones are present: "Boobs" (No. 28), "pussy" (tied for No. 72), "naked girls" (No. 86), "naked" (No. 88), "nude" and "Playboy" (tied for No. 89) and "XXX" (No. 93).
But how about the not-so-obvious ones? There are five different permutations of "YouTube" on the list, and among the videos anyone can see on YouTube are some fairly sexy ones, but even leaving that aside, what about No. 81, which is simply "girls"? Is there much doubt that this would be the search term for neophytes who aren't sophisticated enough to search for "naked girls"?
Another likely "adult" possibility: No. 70, Family Guy, the hit TV show whose animated characters are usually sex-obsessed.
And then there are the musicians: How about No. 30—"Lady Gaga"—and her most popular video, "Poker Face" (No. 40)? Anyone who's seen the blonde singer knows that her act is all about sex.
And what about the other singers? Take Britney Spears, No. 72, known for her sexy lyrics, and whose "Womanizer" is up for MTV's video of the year. Or Eminem, No. 49, whose "Crack a Bottle" includes the lyrics, "O-oh o-oh, bitches hopping in my Tahoe/Got one riding shotgun and no not one of em got clothes/Now where's the rubbers? Whose got the rubbers?" Or Black Eyed Peas' "Boom Boom Pow" (No. 26 and No. 77), part of whose lyrics are, "I'm a beast when you turn me on/Into the future cybertron/Harder, faster, better, stronger/Sexy ladies extra longer"? Or Flo Rida's "Right Round," No. 57, which opens with, "You spin my head right round, right round/When you go down, when you go down down"? Other possibilities include Miley Cyrus (No. 15) and Beyonce (No. 78). Even the song "I'm on a Boat" makes the list at No. 63, and while its lyrics are simplistic, the video is chock full of bikinied babes.
And what about the actresses? What kid whose hormones are flowing and who's seen Transformers or its sequel wouldn't search the 'net for nude pix of its star, Megan Fox (No. 45)? Or 17-year-old Selena Gomez, No. 55, star of Disney's series Wizards of Waverly Place? Or cute little Demi Lovato, No. 69, star of Disney's TV show Sonny With a Chance, about a "talented Midwestern girl [who wins] a nationwide talent search to move to Los Angeles and star in a popular television series"?
Certainly, some of the kids' searches for the above have been completely innocent, but all of them? Highly unlikely unless all the "children" profiled are prepubescents—which these days probably only leaves out the 8- to 10-year-olds.
So as Heartlight Ministries' Mark Gregston advises, "More than ever, parents need to have frank discussions with their younger teens about drugs, sex and alcohol. Sounds cliché, but these issues and other potential pitfalls need to be discussed, without you or them feeling ashamed or embarrassed for bringing them up. You may not think some topics are appropriate to talk about, but believe me, the kids themselves are talking about them, texting about them, and posting them on their website."
Hmm... guess that's why Facebook is on the list twice as well.