1 In 5 Under 18s Accessing Adult Sites

Government ministers want online pornography sites to face fines of up to £250,000 unless they do more to stop under-18s accessing explicit content.

New research shows one in five children in the UK has looked at porn on the internet and ChildLine has seen a 6% increase in counselling sessions where a young person's specifically called with concerns about adult websites.

The laws set out rules online pornography sites will require age verification technology.

Internet Safety and Security Minister Baroness Shields said: ``The internet is a tremendous resource for learning and creativity but it is important to make sure that children are able to make the most of all it has to offer in a safe way. Keeping children safe online is one of government's greatest priorities.

"Just as we do offline, we want to make sure children are prevented from accessing pornographic content online which should only be viewed by adults.''

Lady Shields added the proposals would put the responsibility on pornographers to ensure they have safeguards in place to block under-18s.

Policy officer for NSPCC Cymru Vivienne Laing tells HEART she's confident the laws would work: "They'll be linked to credit cards or the electoral roll where people have to be 18. Also the threat of the fines running in to hundreds of thousands of pounds should force the companies to change how they currently act.

"We know that the internet is a fantastic resource for children when they're learning. But we need to make sure they're safe. Every day children contact ChildLine to say they've been badly affected after viewing online pornography."

The consultation will run until April 12.