Belfast - A majority of teenagers claimed they watched pornography on the internet and more than one-third said it was educational, according to an online survey.

The survey, involving 508 teenagers, was carried out by Unicef Ireland and is part of a series looking at issues facing adolescents.

While 54pc said they looked at porn, only one in five said they ever speak to their parents about sex. One-in-five 16-year-olds said they have already had sex.

Other findings included:

* One-in-five 16-year-olds bought the alcohol they consumed themselves.

* While 77pc said they drink alcohol, 15pc reported that they got drunk for the first time before they were 14 years old. l The great majority of the teenagers said their parents were aware of their drinking. l More than one-third reported that they had taken drugs.

* The reported prevalence of mental health difficulties such as depression, self-harm, eating disorders or feeling suicidal was noticeably higher among those who also reported the use of drugs.

Fiona Ryan, director of Alcohol Action Ireland, said: “We know from previous research that the age of first drinking has dropped from 16 to 14 in the space of a decade.

“One-in-seven young people (15pc) in this report said they had gotten drunk by the time they had reached the age of 14.

“We also know from other surveys that young people have no problem accessing alcohol and the Unicef survey graphically demonstrates this with one-in-four 16- to 17-year-olds saying they buy alcohol themselves,” she added. - Irish Independent