Symantec: Kids Receive Inappropriate Spam Daily

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Symantec Corp. yesterday announced that more than 80 percent of children surveyed who use e-mail receive inappropriate spam on a daily basis.

Also, half of the youths surveyed reported feeling uncomfortable and offended when seeing improper e-mail content, Symantec said. The survey, conducted online by market research firm Applied Research, interviewed 1,000 youths between the ages of seven and 18, according to a Symantec press release.

"As with any e-mail user, kids are just as susceptible as adults to being bombarded by spam advertising inappropriate products and services, such as Viagra and pornographic materials," said Steve Cullen, senior vice president, consumer and client product delivery at Symantec.

When asked what kind of spam e-mails they have received, 80 percent of respondents said they are bombarded by sweepstakes such as "win a Playstation," 62 percent have received relationship-related spam such as "meet singles online," 61 percent have seen finance-related spam offering cut-rate mortgages or homes for sale, 55 percent have read weight-loss messages," 51 percent have received pharmaceutical sales pitches such as "buy herbal Viagra online" and 47 percent have received emails with links to X-rated Web sites, according to Symantec.

Most of the children surveyed have personal e-mail accounts and more than half of them reportedly check e-mail without their parents' guidance. The findings show that 76 percent have one or more e-mail accounts. Seventy-two percent said they check their e-mail a few times a week to a few times a day. Nearly one in three said it is not important

to always have a parent check e-mail with them, 21 percent said they don't care and 16 percent said they don't want their parents to check their e-mail with them. Forty-six percent of the youths said they do not get their parent's permission before giving out their personal e-mail addresses to friends or strangers.

Also, although 89 percent of the children surveyed responded that they have heard of spam, but nearly one in three said they do not know whether spam is good or bad for them, Symantec said.

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