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Study: Illegal Downloads Among Youth Drops

22 May, 2007 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Increased parental supervision, in addition to antipiracy efforts targeted at teenagers by the movie and recording industries, has apparently had some success in curbing illegal downloads.

In a nationwide survey of Internet users (ages 8 to 18) conducted by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), 36% of respondents said they illegally downloaded copyrighted material this year, compared to 43% in 2006 and 60% in 2004, the first year of the survey.

Copyrighted material included music, movies, TV shows, software and video games.

Among factors influencing youthful Web browsers to avoid illegal downloads, 52% of respondents cited legal ramifications, which still ranked behind increased fears of inadvertently downloading a computer virus (62%).

About 51% of the youth didn't want to accidentally download spyware, and 48% feared parental involvement, up from 40% in 2006.

Specifically, 30% of respondents admitted to illegally downloading music this year, compared to 32% last year and 53% in 2004.

For movies, 8% of the youth said they had downloaded a feature-length movie without paying for it, compared to 10% last year.

The survey found that 50% of respondents had been warned by their parents about illegal downloading and about third-party online predatory practices.

“This study indicates that parents represent a growing and effective influence on the online practices of youth,” said Diane Smiroldo, VP of public affairs for BSA. “But while decreases in downloading are encouraging over recent years, youth are still taking too many risks online. We hope that parents continue to take seriously their role in helping their children make the right choices online.”

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