Purchasing music from Apple's iTunes Store is more popular among nine- to 14-year-olds than illegally downloading music over the internet, according to research firm NPD.

NPD said that 70 percent of nine- to 14-year olds – also known as 'tweens' - are now using legal means to download music. Apple iTunes, the most popular such service for this age group, was used by 49 percent of those surveyed.

The closet illegal competitor, LimeWire, still holds 26 percent of the music-download market. MySpace was the third most popular site for music sharing, used by 16 percent of tweens.

"It's encouraging that so many young consumers are acquiring digital music the legal way - by paying for it," wrote Russ Crupnick, vice president and entertainment industry analyst for NPD Group, in the report. "On the other hand, it's surprising how unsupervised they are. The music industry hoped that litigation and education might encourage parents to keep better tabs on their kids' digital music activities, but the truth is many kids continue to share music via P2P."

Even in light of the NPD report, the Recording Academy says it plans to continue its work to educate the public on the effects that digital music has on artists and the people that work behind the scenes making the music.

"A lot of people work hard to make the music," Maureen Droney, the Recording Academy's executive director of the producers & engineer wing, told our sister title Macworld in an interview during last week's Grammy Awards. "I see the end result [of piracy] on creative professionals and it's sad."

Two thirds of tweens surveyed said they were allowed to access the internet without any adult supervision. Droney said that the Academy's continued education programs need to target parents and kids in order to counteract the current trends of illegal file sharing.