Safer Internet Day Highlights Gaming Risks

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Safer Internet Day 2011 urges young web users to be resposible citizens in the digital world

Safer Internet Day this year aims to encourage online responsibility among young web users amid increasing exposure to inappropriate material and risks in games and other online activity.

Based on a research by the UK Safer Internet Centre, gaming has become more popular than social networking, with 83 percent of 9-16 year olds use the Internet to play games. They are reportedly more prone to online risks such as exposure to adult material and malicious strangers.

Young web browsers exposed to ‘sexting’

“Fourteen percent of 9-16 year olds have in the past 12 months seen images online that are obviously sexual – for example, showing people naked or people having sex,” according to the EU Kids Online survey in 25 countries.

Fifteen percent of 11 to 16-year-old children have received peer-to-peer messages containing nudity, while 3 percent of this figure admitted sending or posting such messages themselves.

This is the eighth annual Safer Internet Day, organised by InSafe, a European Commission funded network to promote Internet safety. Safer Internet Day, which this hear has almost 70 participating countries, aims to educate web surfers, especially children, of possible dangers caused by the Internet.

It is “a reminder that they need to be responsible citizens in the digital world,” said the day’s patron, Neelie Kroes, European digital agenda commissioner.

Under the theme of virtual lives, this year event focuses on online gaming and social networking. It aims to raise public awareness of safe and responsible Internet use under the slogan “It’s more than a game, it’s your life”.

Meanwhile, a new mobile phone application has been developed by Lancaster University to spot adults pretending to be children.

The software, which is called Child Defence, uses language analysis technology to identify language quirks peculiar to different age groups.

The app can also link in with social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, allowing children to scan chat text and build up profiles of individuals who they are chatting to online.

SMART rules

To safeguard young Internet users, Safer Internet Day 2011 has introduced five ‘SMART’ rules for children …

  • S – Safe: Do not give out personal information
  • M – Meeting: Meeting someone who has only been in touch online can be dangerous
  • A – Accepting: Accepting online material from strangers can lead to problems
  • R – Reliable: Be aware of the fact that anyone can fake their virtual identity
  • T – Tell: Tell parents when feeling disturbed by someone or something over the Internet

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