Major computer retailers are failing to protect children from online porn and violence, a charity said today.
The NSPCC criticised five chains for not advising parents about computer software programmes which block undesirable websites from PCs.
It is calling for child safety software - known as nanny software - to be built into every new computer. An anonymous NSPCC survey found staff at only two of the 28 stores visited gave clear advice about the software. Staff from the charity who posed as customers were in some cases offered no advice at all or no nanny software at the stores they visited.
In some cases, the NSPCC researchers were offered software which was not child friendly and would not block access to illegal or undesirable sites.
The NSPCC visited 28 outlets across five major PC retailers - but the charity refused to say which chains those were.
NSPCC policy adviser Zoe Hilton said: "We need to wake up to the fact that threats to children online are no less real than in the wider world."
The charity wants retailers to step up their approach to children's online safety and for parents to educate youngsters about the dangers of the virtual world.
It is also calling on firms to pre-install software set to a high level of security which will block access to unwanted and illegal sites.
The NSPCC researchers posing as customers asked about computers and software suitable for a young person at 14 outlets. None of the stores offered or mentioned child safety software or parental controls.
At another 14 outlets, the NSPCC asked directly which child safety software was available. Staff at only two of those 14 stores offered clear and authoritative advice.