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EU 'falling short' in warning kids about dangers of social networking

An EU report says the average child starts using the internet at 7 – and that kids need educating on the dangers of networking.
Sep 13th 2011, 11:44 AM 476 9

CHILDREN ACROSS EUROPE should be educated on the dangers of sites like Facebook, as part of a greater drive to safeguard them from dangers online – but member states are falling short, according to a European report published this morning.

The European Commission’s report, reviewing how individual member states are implementing a series of recommendations on protecting children in the digital world, says that only ten EU member states have introduced guidelines for social networking users.

Ireland is not among the ten countries that had adopted such guidelines.

“Given the massive expansion of social working sites, operators’ control systems fall short of covering all the potential risks in an efficient and consistent manner,” the report found.

While individual networking sites were rolling out features to help children report cases of cyber-bullying, grooming and similar issues, the report complained that these features were only being rolled out on a case-by-case.

It also said the use of ‘privacy by default’ settings was not very widespread on networking sites.

Member states who do not already have guidelines for social networking have been encouraged to sign up to the EU’s own set of safer social networking principles.

The report, which has been prepared for the European Parliament, also encouraged internet providers to do more to publicise their hotlines for inappropriate content.

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It also said that while the sale of video games was regulated in shops across the continent, to ensure that children of certain ages were not able to buy games with violent or adult themes, there was little or no regulation for similarly-themed games playable online.

European digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes said Europe needed to “step up a gear on what we do, and how we work together, to empower and protect children in this ever changing digital world.”

Download the European Commission’s full report (PDF format)

Irish data chiefs set to test if Facebook ‘Like’ button is illegal

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Gavan Reilly


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