Safer Internet Day warns kids about web risks

Parents are urged to monitor their children's internet use

Filling in your personal profile on social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook may seem innocent, but in the wrong hands the information posted could prove to be a goldmine.

That’s the message to children and parents in the UK today, Safer Internet Day. It aims to highlight to people the dangers lurking on the web, such as people hiding their real identities and the risk of revealing too much personal information.

Parents are urged to monitor their children's internet use - who they chat to online, and so on - BBC News reports. Of particular emphasis for kids is the message to never meet someone they've met online in real life without bringing along an adult.

50 countries involved

Safer Internet Day, held for the fifth time today, is an EU-lead project running in some 50 countries. Schools, local authorities and youth clubs are holding events and courses throughout the UK.

But an internet security expert warned that unless user apathy is addressed, Safer Internet Day is "a waste of time".

Security software firm PC Tools said that while it supports attempts to educate children, many of the measures being proposed “just won't make any difference unless the lessons being taught are carried through to everyday internet and online etiquette”.

‘Teenagers don't care’

“Teenagers don't care enough about the threats of online hackers. All they want to do is play the latest cool online game or meet new friends in online chatrooms – leaving themselves wide open to internet attack,” PC Tools online security expert Mike Greene said.

"Naivety and indifference fuel online crime through a mix of poor etiquette and out-of-date protection so it is imperative that parents and young users sit up and take notice," Greene added.

He warned that the "it won't happen to me" attitude is the root cause of many problems as young internet users leave themselves and their computers exposed to botnets (which drive spam email messages), spyware and viruses. Downloading and sharing of files, and revealing personal data on social networking and gaming websites were cited as the most risky activities online.