Cyber-bullying is rife across Europe

Safer Internet Day 2009: Are you aware what your child does when unsupervised and online?

Today is officially Safer Internet Day 2009 (SID 09), a day when we consider the best ways of negotiating the many dangers associated with children and teens using the internet.

It is particularly timely, following the news earlier this week that a new survey revealed UK teens aged 13-15 were using the internet for surfing soft porn and other inappropriate websites far more than their parents ever imagined.

The focus of SID 09 is on cyber-bullying and the risks of social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo.

Social networking has been hitting the mainstream press headlines in the last week, following Facebook's recent fifth anniversary.

Cyber-bullying is rife

MSN's research division has revealed that 51 per cent of 20,000 14 to 19-year-olds surveyed across Europe now get unrestricted access to the web and that a worrying 29 per cent of these teenagers had suffered cyber-bullying.

"We were surprised that it's over 50% without any parental control," said John Mangelaars, head of Microsoft's consumer and online divisions in Europe.

77 per cent of British parents do use filtering software and talk to their children about how they use the internet. Which is great news, of course, but this is an issue that is only going to grow in importance as more and more children grow up surrounded by fast and ubiquitous access to the internet.