MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.—Symantec’s OnlineFamily.Norton, a web-based service that keeps parents informed about their kids’ online activities, hasreleased its 'Kids’ Top 100 Searches of 2009' report, and some of the most common terms are sure to fuel accusations that young minds are being corrupted by pornography, or even allegations that the “damage” already is done
Of the top 100 searches performed by children younger than 18, YouTube, Google and Facebook lead the list, in that order. Coming in fourth and fifth, however, are "sex" and "porn." Farther down a few sexual terms also make the list, but the vast majority of words or phrases remain non-sexual and age-appropriate.
What stands out, though, is the generality of the sexual search terms and the fact that other, more graphic terms are nowhere to be found in the top 100. There are one or two curious exceptions. ‘Boobs’ comes in an number 32, and at number 82 is the rather cryptic "pussy," which on its own provides no indication whether the searcher sought information about cats or women's body parts.
When the list is separated by gender, some interesting differences emerge. For boys, “sex” and “porn” were numbers 4 and 5, respectively. For girls, “sex” is number 5 and porn is number 24.
When ages are factored in, other differences emerge. For kids aged 7 and younger, “porn” came in at number 5, but “sex” doesn’t even make the top 25. For kids aged 8-12, “sex” is number 4 and “porn” is number 11. For kids aged 13-18, “sex” also comes in at number 4, but “porn” follows fast at number 6. All of the rest of the top 25 search terms for each age group are non-sexual in nature.
A quick conclusion might be that kids generally are curious about sex, and by cultural extension porn, but they also generally are unaware of the specifics of sex, even up to the age of 18. While that might seem incongruous with the conventional assumption that kids are becoming sexually active at younger ages than in previous generations and are thus presumably more informed about the act itself, a lack of sophistication in searches could reveal a commensurate lack of sophisticated awareness about sex.
For those who believe complete ignorance about sex is a good thing, these results might then provide a ray of hope mixed with concern. But the same might also be said about those who believe that even minors—or especially minors—need to have age-appropriate education about sexuality and, also, sex.
Some other findings include:
Kids' Top 100 Searches of 2009 (combined)
* Kids spend most of their time searching for music-related topics (30 percent), then TV/movie-related topics (12 percent).
* The most popular celebrity was Michael Jackson. Taylor Swift came in second.
* Team Jacob won over Team Edward (fan camps associated with the Twilight movies), with Taylor Lautner coming in at #80 and Robert Pattinson being non-existent in the top 100.
* Other top celebs included Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Lil Wayne, Megan Fox, Eminem, Beyonce, Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, Black Eyed Peas, Jonas Brothers, Rihanna and Chris Brown.
*Kids are searching for shopping sites like eBay, Walmart, Target and Best Buy.
Top Searches of 2009 by gender
* YouTube, Google and Facebook show up in the top three of both boys’ and girls’ search terms.
* Boys’ No. 4 search term was "sex" while girls’ No. 4 search term was "Taylor Swift." Girls were still interested in sex, though, with the term coming it at No. 5.
* Boys’ most popular celebrity search term was Michael Jackson.
* Boys’ top 25 search terms mainly indicated social networking sites, various websites, shopping sites, inappropriate terms and games.
* Girls’ top 25 search terms mainly comprised social networking sites, as well as music and entertainment/celebrity terms.
* Both boys’ and girls’ most popular search terms were related to music, though it was higher in terms of percentages for girls at 42 percent compared to boys at 22 percent.
* Boys searched more adult topics compared to girls (13 percent vs. 2 percent).
Top Searches of 2009 by age group
* Youtube, Facebook and Google represented the top three search terms for all age groups.
* Sex cames in at No. 4 for teens and tweens, while porn cames in No. 4 for kids 7 and younger.
* "Taylor Swift" was the top search term among teens. For tweens and kids 7 and younger, it was "Michael Jackson."
* Teens and tweens spent most of their search time online on music-related subjects (34 percent of teens and 27 percent of tweens).
* Kids under the age of 7 spent most of their search time online on games (23 percent).**
* Kids under the age of seven are conducting searches for peer-to-peer sites like Limewire and Mininova.