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Finding porn material online 'is a two-click affair'

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A simple Google search for the word ‘porn’ takes you to dozens of free adult websites

A simple Google search for the word ‘porn’ takes you to dozens of free adult websites

A simple Google search for the word ‘porn’ takes you to dozens of free adult websites

Finding pornography on the internet is a trivial, two-click affair.

A simple Google search for the word 'porn' takes you to dozens of free adult websites. The biggest ones, such as Pornhub, aren't illicit operations but mainstream commercial businesses that advertise on buses and billboards.

This has led to more exposure to adult content for internet users, including children and teenagers.

A recent survey by European and Irish researchers found that 47pc of Irish 15- and 16-year-olds have seen sexual imagery online. The figure is lower for 13- and 14-year-olds, 80pc of whom say they have not seen sexual imagery online. The data, contained in the 'Net Children Go Mobile' report, shows that boys are more likely to seek such material out and that girls are more likely to be bothered or upset by it.

"The proportion of those harmed rises with younger age groups," said the report. "As many were upset as not upset among 11- to 12-year-olds, rising to a proportion of three to one who had been upset among nine- to 10-year-olds."

However, despite the increase in availability of adult content to children here, Irish parents regard it as less worrying than they did a decade ago. A nationwide survey conducted by the online child protection organisation Hotline.ie found that the number of parents rating pornography access by children as their biggest concern fell from 44pc to 20pc between 2001 and 2014. Social media is now an extensive source of adult content too. Large parts of Tumblr, which is one of the fastest growing social media services, are now taken up with porn. Twitter, too, is a frequent conduit for adult imagery and porn accounts. Facebook and Instagram have less adult content.

A particular problem for parents is that Irish kids overwhelmingly access the internet by themselves in their bedrooms, according to the 'Net Children Go Mobile' survey.

Some Irish broadband providers are responding with opt-in internet filters. The country's second biggest internet provider, UPC, will soon introduce such an adult content filter to all 336,000 of its broadband connections. It will happen at source, so will not require special software or paid-for services. But this will not cover casual imagery on Google or social networks.

Irish Independent