The introduction of flat-rate Internet access in Britain and the expected increase in the time children spend online will make it easier for cyberpredators to target young people, an Internet safety expert has warned.
Parry Aftab, lawyer and executive director of Cyberangels, a US-based organisation that also operates in the UK educating children about online safety, said cyberstalking was a big problem in America and that the same could happen in Britain. She said the key was educating young Net users about what information they should reveal when emailing or chatting online.
The findings of a survey of 11,000 children, conducted for Ms Aftab's new book The Parents' Guide to Protecting Your Children in Cyberspace, revealed that 4 per cent have given out details such as addresses and phone numbers and 12 per cent have agreed to meet someone they met online. She said: "There is still a lot of work to be done to ensure children understand how to use the Internet safely and that parents know how to implement a family Internet policy that will keep their kids safe online."
Ms Aftab was one of the speakers at the "Kids Helping Kids" child Internet safety conference held this week at the House of Lords. The event brought together charities, the police, media and other organisations to devise strategies on making Internet use safe for children. "The Net is so important to their careers that they need to have access to it," she said.