More than one in ten teenagers uses the Internet to access pornography, according to Government research.
Viewing adult-only Websites was the main reason for 12 per cent of secondary students going online.
However 77 per cent of pupils aged 13, 15 and 17 said they used the Internet most often to do homework.
About half said they logged on for instant messaging, while nine per cent said they took part in discussion groups.
The findings by the National Foundation for Education Research are contained in research for the Department for Education and Skills on citizenship education.
Children’s organisations from 67 countries have called on technology companies to make the Internet safe for youngsters.
The Make IT safe campaign urges the computer and telecoms industries to set minimum global standards to protect children from porn and abuse.
Online chat rooms should be regulated and transmission of harmful pictures should be banned, campaigners said.
British Internet safety expert John Carr added: ‘We continue to read of children being abused by sexual predators where the Internet played a key part in facilitating the initial contact that led to the abuse. This must change and soon.
The project is backed by the UK based Children’s charities Coalition on Internet Safety. Members include Barnardo’s, Childline and the NSPCC.
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