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EU Youngsters Aware of Internet Hazards, says EC Study

The European Commission found in a study that there is a growing awareness among European children of the hazards of Internet usage. However, in case of problems, they would rather not seek advice from parents.

The report that came out on August 10, 2007 analyzed the cyber habits of 9-10 and 12-14 year olds and found that the Internet and mobile phones are practically self-evident for European youngsters. A general awareness exists of the risks of the Internet but when encountering problems online, taking an adult into confidence rated as the last resort for minors.

The report also discovered widespread awareness among children, in theory at least, of the perils of illegal downloads. But the tendency was to underestimate or challenge the illegal aspect. Many children in the survey justified indulging in downloads justifying it by saying that everybody else is doing it as well. Many also highlighted downloads made by their parents as an unsaid form of approval.

The main threat on the Internet for the young users was the possibility of contacting adult strangers, after which came hacker or similar programmers capable of affecting computers. As far as site content was concerned, adult content like pornography and violence apart from racist and neo-Nazi sites were mentioned. Awareness of precautionary measures needed also exists among many. Online activities rated highest are online gaming, surfing and communication.

Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media, told Cooltech on August 13, 2007 that the confidence with which Europe's youth is taking to digital technologies is heartening. Being adept at using new media actively, she felt, is imperative for developing a knowledge-based society in Europe.

Contrary to the perception of parents, the report revealed the children are better informed about online hazards including security, viruses, identity theft and dangers of meeting strangers, as well as about the necessary precautions they require. According to the report, the general view is that personal data of any kind should not be disclosed on the Internet nor should one's mobile phone number be given to strangers.

Related article: E-Crime Reporting Format To Be Launched in July

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