75% of kids admit taking internet risksKids still give personal info to strangers

11 December 2006

Child at a computer

Many children are are putting themselves at risk of falling victim to online predators because they don't follow safety warnings, a new survey has found.

Youth website Dubit found that almost three quarters of seven to 16-year-olds had handed over personal information - such as an email address, a photograph of themselves or their phone number - to someone online they had never met before.

The survey of 1000 children also found that two thirds of parents make no attempt to monitor their children's online activities and less than one in three parents check which websites their children visit, who they chat to online or set limits on the time spent on the web.

A separate ICM poll showed that the availability of anti-paedophile and anti-bullying technology was the most important factor for adults when buying a computer.

Both surveys were carried out on behalf of Leeds-based child protection technology firm Crisp Thinking, which will launch an ‘anti-grooming engine’ in the new year.

Child protection

The new technology, which would be installed with internet service providers and instant messaging networks, will not be able to be simply turned off by children who know how to use the computer.

It analyses conversations taking place in public and private chat rooms and assesses whether a relationship poses a threat to a young person, flagging up any inappropriate actions.

Its inventor Adam Hildreth, of Crisp Thinking, said: ‘Although child protection technology is seen as an important factor for parents, many of them do not understand how it operates or how best to monitor the internet usage of their children.

‘In many households children are just left to get on with it as some parents don't have the time to keep an eye on their online activities.

‘It is also quite disturbing to consider that young people are also ignoring safety warnings and are openly divulging private information to strangers.

‘I believe that part of the solution is the development of our AGE technology that will provide the peace of mind protection families need to safeguard young people from potential grooming or bullying.

‘By monitoring the language of developing conversations online, AGE can flag up any potential attempt to draw young people into an unhealthy relationship.’