Kiddy surfers unaware of cyberstranger danger

Children may be getting good at using the Net but they're still unprepared for the danger that strangers online can represent, says report

Kids may be getting Web-savvy but they are not surfing safely according to a report published Monday.

The study -- conducted by market researcher firm NOP -- finds that of the four million seven to sixteen-year old Web users, nearly a third would give out their postal address to strangers on the Net. Fourteen percent would also give out their email address.

Director of NOP Family Barbie Clarke believes that children on the Net are "incredibly vulnerable". "Not only will kids supply their address to companies, many of them believe that if they make a 'virtual friend' on the Internet it is perfectly OK to give them their home address," she says.

Clarke calls for parents to keep a closer eye on their children's surfing habits. "The possible implications of this [survey] are both self-evident and frightening and underline the need for parents to ensure that their children understand that danger lurks in the cyberworld every bit as much as in the real world," she says.

According to the study one in twenty seven to sixteen-year-olds have seen something on the Net that has upset or embarrassed them. Asked why they were upset, half said that it was because what they had seen was rude and a quarter were worried that they might get into trouble.

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