Almost one in five children who illegally download films are left "disturbed" by what they see, according to new research.
And two thirds wish they had checked the classification on the film before watching it, a study commissioned by the The Industry Trust for IP Awareness has revealed.
Over a third (37 per cent) of younger children aged 11-12 admit to having recently downloaded or streamed a film rated 15 from a pirate website. Pirate sites often do not contain information on the age banding of the film or any warnings of what the film contains.
A quarter of children aged between 11 and 15 download or stream films from unofficial sites, despite parents restricting their internet access. Developing technology on smartphones is making it easier for young people to stream content from pirate sites.
The research comes after Prime Minister David Cameron announced a raft of reforms to protect children from websites containing adult material. His reforms will include family friendly filters to block pornography sites, unless customers opt-out.
Mr Cameron had warned in a speech that sexually explicit material was "corroding childhood", arguing that service providers "were not doing enough to take responsibility" for what young people can access.
New filters would apply to all devices linked to the family home Wi-Fi network and across public Wi-Fi networks “wherever children are likely to be present”.
The survey, commissioned in partnership with the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) collected responses from 1,000 youngsters across England.
Liz Bales, Director General of the Industry Trust for IP Awareness, said age-appropriate guidance was now critical in protecting young people online. She said: "The film and TV industry believes education has a role to play. We provide tools to educate families around legitimate and age-appropriate source of film and enable parents and guardians to talk to their children to help them navigate the online landscape safely and legally.”
The studies authors are instead encouraging parents to ensure their children download content from legal sites, such as findanyfilm.com
Lucy Brett, Head of Education for the BBFC, said:“There is a wealth of free digital tools and advice available for parents and children to take advantage of so they feel confident about their family accessing films safely and legally online.
Additional reporting by PA