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Safe surfing is child's play

KidSmart protects children from online predators

Children's internet charity Childnet, the Home Office and PC firm Tiny are backing a scheme called KidSmart, aimed at making eight- to 11-year-olds aware of the dangers unsupervised web use.

KidSmart launches today at BETT, an education and technology show held at Olympia, London and will continue with visits to primary schools across the country, parents' evenings, teachers' resource packs as well as a dedicated website at www.kidsmart.org.uk.

The scheme has the support of Beverley Hughes, chair of the government's task force on child protection on the internet, formed in March 2001.

"Parents, teachers and children themselves all have a role to play in surfing safely," said Hughes. "And the KidSmart programme will help protect younger users as they explore this fascinating now world."

Childnet spokesman Vaughn Armstrong said KidSmart is not intended to scare parents and teachers or deter children from using the internet, but to encourage safe use.

But the five KidSmart rules all deal with the dangers of internet usage and not the benefits. Also, paranoia about the use of the internet by paedophiles is a regular feature in the tabloid press.

Kidsmart complements the Home Office's wiseuptothenet campaign which is currently running radio ads highlighting the dangers of paedophiles masquerading as children online.

Those KidSmart rules in full

  • Secret: always keep your name, address, mobile phone number and password private — it's like giving out the key to your home

  • Meeting someone you have contacted in cyberspace can be dangerous. Only do so with your parent's/carer's permission and when they can be present

  • Accepting emails or opening files from people you don't know or trust can get you into trouble — they may contain viruses or nasty messages

  • Remember someone online may be lying and not be who they say they are. Stick to the public areas in chatrooms and if you feel uncomfortable simply get out of there

  • Tell your parents or carer if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable or worried

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