London: Children belonging to middle-class families are more likely to be harmed by using internet in comparison to those living in poorer households, a British study has found. According to the research, they are more prone to being bullied, seeing pornographic images, receiving sexual messages and indulging in risky behaviour such as meeting up with people they have only met online, as reported.

Their parents, however, tend to be ignorant about what their children find on the web, it added. Middle-class children were at greater risk because they were more likely to know their way round the internet and to have a personal computer in their bedroom, or a smartphone, said the study's author.

Sonia Livingstone, professor of social policy at the London School of Economics, called on parents to talk to their children about their internet use, so that any potential harm could be nipped in the bud.

While surveying over 1,000 children, Livingstone also found over half of the children - 51 percent admitting having neglected homework and ignored family and friends due to internet's excessive use. Her study also found parents often having no idea of what their child was doing on the internet. Of the children who told interviewers that they had seen sexual images, 40 percent of their parents claimed being certain that their children had not, and 29 percent said they did not know.

(Agencies)