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More parents keeping track of teens online

American parents are latching on to filters, other methods to prevent their kids from accessing objectionable content, study shows.

An increasing number of American parents are using filters and other methods to keep their teenagers away from harmful and objectionable content on the Internet, according to a study.

Nearly 54 percent of families with teenagers use filters such as Net Nanny and CyberPatrol to prevent access to inappropriate online content, according to a study released Thursday by the Pew Internet & American Life project. That compares with 41 percent who used filters in 2000.

Parents are also using nontechnical means, such as placing their computers in communal places in their homes and restricting access, the study said. Nearly 73 percent of online teenagers said their household computer is located in a public space inside the house, while 64 percent of parents said they set rules about their children's time online.

The study was based on a survey of 1,100 young people between 12- and 17 years old, and their parents.

Teenagers are one of the most sought-after target groups for Internet companies and online music stores, which are launching niche products and services in hopes of wooing a younger generation.

According to the Pew study, 21 million, or about 87 percent, of teenagers use the Internet. Of those, about 19 million have Internet access at home, while the rest have access at schools, community centers, churches, friends' homes or cybercafes.

The survey found there are gaps in perception about how much monitoring is taking place, however. About 62 percent of parents reported that they keep an eye on their children's online habits, but only 33 percent of teenagers felt their parents monitor their online activity.

The study said the impact of filters and parental vigilance remains unclear. Both parents and teenagers agree that young surfers are not as careful as they should be online and that they do things on the Web that their parents don't know about. At the same time, the number of parents who feel that the Internet is good for their children has risen from 55 percent in 2000 to 67 percent in 2005.