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Parents taught how to keep kids safe online

Website offers tips on keeping surfing safe for children

Educational groups from several European countries have launched a website to promote a safe online environment for children.

Besafeonline.org, backed by groups in Scotland, Spain, Iceland and the Netherlands, aims to beat online paedophiles by educating parents and teachers, in simple non-technical terms, about the possible risks posed by chatrooms, discussion forums and adult websites.

Elts (Education, Learning and Teaching Scotland) is one of the groups taking part in the scheme. It is working alongside the Home Office taskforce and the Internet Crime Forum to educate parents about the real perils of the internet.

"There is already government advice for schools and local authorities about providing safe access [to the internet] and there has been consideration of whether new legislation is needed to cover activities like cyber-stalking and online 'grooming' of children," said Nick Morgan, spokesman at Elts.

But the problem for many parents and teachers is that they are simply not as computer savvy as their children and have no idea about how to monitor or control their children's surfing.

"Children are usually well ahead of their parents in terms of internet skills, but the same kids are often little aware of potential hazards and how to deal with problems that arise," said Morgan. "[The site] is about empowering parents and, helping them acquire the knowledge to encourage children to behave safely online."

Another problem is that without proper education parents may overreact to the dangers posed by the internet.

"Parents can get put off the internet by frequent media scares about paedophiles online, but in reality the huge educational and social benefits to be gained from the net by young people should persuade parents," said Morgan.

The site will be advertised throughout this week in schools, on billboards and through other promotional material.

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