Symantec, the Internet security giant, sells a service called OnlineFamily.Norton, which allows parents to monitor and control their children's online activity. It also allows Symantec to compile statistics -- such as what it is that those children search for when they go to Google, Yahoo or Bing.
So where do they look when their parents aren't looking over their shoulders? At a lot of the things their parents do, it turns out.
The top ten searches, according to Symantec:
1. YouTube 2. Google 3. Facebook 4. Sex 5. MySpace 6. Porn 7. Yahoo 8. Michael Jackson 9. Fred (Fred Figglehorn is a fictional character whose YouTube channel has become a hit among kids.) 10. eBay
1. To a large degree, children are searching for many of the same things adults do. Sure, "Miley Cyrus" was 15th, and "Club Penguin" was 22nd -- but they're well down the list behind "Sex" (4th), "Porn" (6th), and not far ahead of "Boobs" (28th).
2. This effect was noted among adults years ago with the rise of search engines, but URLs don't mean much anymore. Rather than type in www.YouTube.com, kids (and their parents) type in "YouTube." In fact, Symantec says they Google the word "Google" in remarkable numbers. A majority of the terms on the list would get you what you're after if you typed them into the address bar instead of a search window and added ".com" ("Fred" would not get kids to Figglehorn; fred.com is a high-end jeweler.)
Of course, this is not necessarily a representative sample; it's culled only from children whose parents who bought Symantec's program to monitor their kids' wanderings. What about the kids who aren't being watched?