CHILDREN aged two or younger are being allowed to use the internet, while many youngsters are spending much longer online than their parents realise, a new poll suggests.

The survey reveals that almost four in five children (79.8 per cent) have seen images or information about eating disorders and self harm on the internet, and more than two in five (42.1 per cent) admit that they have seen online porn.

Others have seen content on suicide, child abuse, animal cruelty, gambling, terrorism or cults.

In many cases, children accidentally accessed this inappropriate content, but almost one in 10 (9.4 per cent) revealed they found it on purpose because they were looking for it, while a further 18.1 per cent found it by following links they were curious about.

The Netmums survey questioned around 1,100 parents and about 825 children aged seven to 16 for their views on the internet.

The findings show that three quarters (72.8 per cent) of parents believe that their child spends under an hour a day online.

But an analysis of the children's poll suggested that on average, youngsters are spending two hours each day on the internet, Netmums claimed.

Around one in eight (12.8 per cent) of the parents surveyed said that their son or daughter was two years old or younger when they were first allowed to go online, while 16.7 per cent said that they let them use the internet at age three.

The survey also found that almost three in 10 parents (29 per cent) let their youngster use the internet without any restrictions or supervision.

More than three quarters (77.1 per cent) of the children questioned said that they had not acted on information they had found on an inappropriate site.

But 17.3 per cent said it made them think about acting on it, while 5.4 per cent said they tried to restrict their eating, 3.4 per cent self-harmed and 2.1 per cent considered suicide.