A Tasmanian study has found one in ten people believe there is nothing wrong with viewing or distributing child exploitation material.
Researchers from the University of Tasmania asked 430 students about their attitudes to child pornography.
One of the researchers, Dr Jeremy Pritchard says about one in ten did not think it was harmful to watch or distribute it.
He says it could be a sign the internet is normalising child exploitation material.
"I think maybe some people just think it's data, that it's an ethically-neutral collection of zeroes and ones," Dr Pritchard said. "That what happened to the child may be criminal, reprehensible, horrible, but they may be thinking what difference does it make if I look at it?
Dr Tony Krone from the University of Canberra says the behaviour of viewers and distributors is critical for law enforcement, as they often progress to becoming perpetrators.
"The research generally shows that about 30 percent of people who are found to be viewing material are also active offenders physically with children," Dr Krone said.
Children and teenagers can themselves unwittingly commit a crime by posting a photograph of themselves online if it is of a revealing or sexual nature.
"There is that risk that children are becoming involved in something that of itself may constitute an offence," Dr Krone said.
Further research found child pornography was starting to appear on sites predominantly used for sharing mainstream movies, music and software.