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Online Kids Take More Risks At Home

Most of the time, schools have stricter rules governing Internet usage than youths encounter at home, a new study says.

Children are more likely to download illegal software, chat with strangers and engage in other risky Internet activities at home than in school, a study released Monday showed.

More than half of the kids in an online poll said their schools' computer usage rules were more stringent than the rules set at home by parents, the Business Software Alliance in Washington, D.C., said. With less rigid supervision, children at home were more likely to surf inappropriate Web sites, talk to strangers, and download copyrighted software and music without paying for them.

About half of older teenagers, 16 to 18, reported having downloaded software and music while on home computer this year, compared to just more than a third of younger teens, 13 to 15.

More than a third of children in all age groups said they were more likely to use a home computer rather than a school computer to talk with someone they didn't know. About a quarter said they were more likely to divulge personal information on a home computer or go to Web sites they probably shouldn't visit.

"We learned that schools are far more likely than parents to use blocking software and enforce safe online use policies," Diane Smiroldo, vice president of public affairs for BSA, said in a statement. "So, what the kids cannot do at school, they can more easily get away with at home due to less supervision."

Only 15 percent of children in the survey said they were alone when on the Internet at school, compared with 62 percent at home, the survey found.

The poll of 1,556 youth from the ages of 8 to 18 was conducted between Sept. 10 and 14 by Harris Interactive on behalf of the BSA, which represents the commercial software industry.

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