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Home > Market > IT Asset & Technology

Illegal Downloading Among Youth Drops

Survey suggests parental rules matter in encouraging good Internet behavior.

The results of a recent survey released by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) show that illegal downloading of digital copyrighted works by youth (ages 8 to 18) has dropped by 24 percent in the last three years.


The survey, first conducted in 2004, indicated that 60 percent of survey participants reported downloading software, music, movies, or games without paying for it; in 2006 the percentage of those who downloaded without paying dropped to 43 percent; and in 2007 the percentage decreased to 36 percent.  Youth report that parental oversight is a significant motivator and key influencing factor in their online behavior.

When the young survey participants were asked what worries them about downloading digital copyrighted works, such as software, music, movies or games, from the Internet without paying, the top responses were fear of accidentally downloading a computer virus (62 percent), getting into legal trouble (52 percent) and accidentally downloading spyware (51 percent).  Fear of getting in trouble with parents ranked fourth at (48 percent), increasing from 40 percent in 2006.

“This study indicates that parents represent a growing and effective influence on the online practices of youth,” said Diane Smiroldo, vice president 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.”

“This study indicates that parents have a strong influence on how their children will make decisions about appropriate Internet behavior,” said Smiroldo.  “Fortunately, the survey found that more than half of the students have been warned by their parents about dangerous, illegal online behaviors.  Imposing rules and ensuring your children abide by them may be an old- fashioned concept for cyberspace, but it works.”



2007 Study Results

When comparing the 2007 study results with the 2004 and 2006 surveys:

1 There was a decrease in the percentage of kids downloading software without paying for it; 11 percent reported illegal downloading in 2007, down from 14 percent in 2006, and in 2004 at 22 percent.


2 In 2007, 30 percent of youth admitted to downloading music without paying, compared to 32 percent in 2006 and 53 percent in 2004.


3 8 percent admitted to downloading movies without paying in 2007, down from 10 percent in 2006 admitting downloading without paying, and 17 percent reporting so in 2004.


Among Other Key Findings...

In the 2007 survey, comparing young people without parental rules to youth with

parental rules, kids are more likely to:

1 Surf the Web (87 percent without parental rules vs. 63 percent with rules);


2 Buy something (55 percent without parental rules vs. 19 percent with rules);


3 Download software (52 percent without parental rules vs. 19 percent with rules); and,


4 Download music without paying a download fee (47 percent without parental rules vs. 16 percent with rules).


Survey Methodology

When comparing the 2007 study results with the 2004 and 2006 surveys:

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of BSA between March 14 and 19, 2007 among 1,196 youths aged 8 to 18 (including 506 teens aged 8 to 12 and 690 teens aged 13 to 18.  Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, parental education, and region were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.



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