CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Software

Study: Children deluged with spam

The findings of a new study will disturb but probably not surprise parents of young Net users: Spam is miring kids' online experience with smut and scams.

The findings of a new study will disturb but probably not surprise parents of young Net users: Spam is miring kids' online experience with smut and scams.

According to research released Monday, conducted by Applied Research and commissioned by Internet security company Symantec, more than 80 percent of Net users between the ages of seven and 18 years old get "inappropriate" unsolicited commercial e-mail on a daily basis.

More than half the 1,000 young people surveyed said the spam made them feel "uncomfortable" and "offended."

The study comes as Internet service providers, other high-tech companies and lawmakers step up their efforts against spam. The results back up common complaints of parents and legislators, who describe a trend in which the volume of spam increases without a concurrent rise in moral tone.

Symantec cited online fraud, as well as unwanted e-mail ads for sexually related products like Viagra and pornography, and urged parents to educate children about what it termed "the dangers of spam."

More than three-quarters of young people surveyed said they had at least one e-mail account, and nearly half said they didn't ask permission before giving out their e-mail addresses. More than one in five of those surveyed said their parents had not spoken to them about spam.

A sizeable majority of respondents to the Applied Research survey reported receiving sweepstakes messages (80 percent), "relationship-related" e-mail (62 percent), finance ads (61 percent), weight-loss ads (55 percent), pharmaceutical ads (51 percent) and spam with links to pornographic sites (47 percent). Applied Research said 21 percent of survey respondents opened and read their spam.

Symantec characterized spam as a new summer hazard, along with sunburns and snakebites. Forty-four percent of respondents said they were online more than two hours daily in the summer, while only 23 percent said they spent that much time daily during the school year.

Although Symantec, based in Cupertino, Calif., is better known for its firewall and virus-protection software titles, the company has worked on spam issues as well. In 2000, it collaborated on a spam product for Internet service providers with antispam company Brightmail, and invested in the start-up.