By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

August 13, 2009 ( - A study conducted between February and July this year by Symantec Corp. through their OnlineFamily.Norton service, which lets parents monitor their children's Web activities, has revealed a glimpse into the online activity of children. Symantec studied 3.5 million searches made by the service users worldwide.

The computer security company released a list of the Top 100 searches conducted by children whose computers have the OnlineFamily.Norton software and whose parents have created a user profile for them.

Symantec found the most popular search term was for YouTube, the video sharing website owned by Google.

"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."

Merritt said the service helps parents stay in touch with what their children are doing online, and helps steer kids away from online content restricted by parents by displaying animated dog characters who warn children when they are heading for territory set as off-limits. The software actively informs the child upon log-in that their parents are monitoring their online activities.

"You can see what they are searching; who they are instant messaging with, and what social networks they are on," Merritt said.

The software is available free from the Symantec OnlineFamily.Norton website.

The Google search engine was the second most popular search term followed by the social-networking service Facebook.

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.

A study published in the summer 2002 edition of the peer-reviewed Italian social sciences journal Mind Medicine and Adolescence determined that using pornographic materials leads to several behavioral, psychological and social problems such as sexual aggressiveness, hostility and violence, as well as an increase in sexual crimes, sexual dysfunction and family breakdown.

Last year Macleans magazine reported that children as young as 8 are viewing and getting hooked on pornography that is easily accessible on the internet and that netporn is reshaping the sexual attitudes of our youth.

"Pornography in all its permutations affects developing sexuality," writes Pamela Paul in her book Pornified: How Pornography is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships and Our Families. "The younger the age of exposure and the more hard-core the material, the more intense the effects."

Monique Polak, the author of the Macleans article said, "These effects can include everything from a skewed sense of sexual norms to difficulty maintaining a healthy, loving relationship; an unrealistic view of women; and potentially, pornography addiction, which can interfere with school work, friendships and family relationships."

In his message for World Communications Day in 2004, Pope John Paul II warned that the media in all its forms, whether print, film, TV or internet, "have the capacity to do grave harm to families."

The Pope reminded both media communicators and consumers that "all communication has a moral dimension. He stated that media has the "power either to reinforce or override traditional values like religion, culture, and family." It has "the capacity to do grave harm to families by presenting an inadequate or even deformed outlook on life, on the family, on religion and on morality," he said. "The stakes are high, since every attack on the fundamental value of the family is an attack on the true good of humanity."

The top 10 search list from OnlineFamily.Norton includes:
1. YouTube
2. Google
3. Facebook
4. Sex
5. MySpace
6. Porn
7. Yahoo
8. Michael Jackson
9. Fred (A popular fictional character whose YouTube channel has become a hit among kids.)
10. eBay

See related LSN articles:
Pope Warns Parents of Grave Responsibility to Protect Children from Harmful Media

Cover of Maclean's Magazine Notes Children as Young as 8 View Online Porn Regularly

Research into Impact of Sex in Media on Youth Reveals Dangers

Too Much Television, Internet Linked to Long-Term Health Problems for Children