Eleven percent of children have had a sexually explicit conversation online, according to a survey by The Carphone Warehouse.
The Mobile Life survey, which polled 6,000 adults and children about their web and mobile habits also revealed that a quarter of 11 to 18 years olds had visited adult websites and 10 percent had met people they first interacted with online.
Almost half the children surveyed admitted they lie to their parents about their online activities, with most using homework as a cover for surfing the net or social networking. Thirty-three percent revealed they would be in trouble if their parents knew what they were really looking at.
Worryingly, the research also said 87 percent of parents believed they were fully aware of the content their children accessed on the internet, while 86 percent were confident their children would not do anything they disapproved of. Sixty-two percent believe security controls to restrict children's online usage are not necessary.
TV psychologist Dr Tanya Byron, who helped conduct the survey, highlighted that parents need to discuss the internet with their children.
"I think the key is for parents to treat the issue of online safety in the same way that they would approach other potential danger areas."
"Would you let your children learn how to cross the road via trial and error? No, you teach them the Green Cross Code. Now, with the increasing importance of wireless technology and the role it plays in our children's lives, we must all learn and teach the Online Safety Code," she added.
Andrew Harrison, UK CEO at The Carphone Warehouse, said: "It's not long ago that the world wide web first began to transform the way we work, keep in touch and seek information and entertainment. Fast forward ten years and we're now at a place where our work lives have been transformed, music and films can be downloaded in a matter of minutes and families are connecting across the world with video calls and emails. Our Mobile Life report has not only highlighted these many benefits but also the potential dangers. We hope our new findings will encourage parents to speak openly with their children about the internet."
This story, "Surprise! Kids Chat Online About Sex" was originally published by PC Advisor (UK).