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Schools get lessons in online hazards

By Kathryn Torney

Two thirds of UK teenagers have been approached online by a stranger through their social networking page, according to the results of a new survey.

This, and other worrying findings, has resulted in Microsoft Ireland launching a new campaign today which will involve the company going into 53 schools across Northern Ireland to speak to young people about safety when they are online.

Working with the PSNI, the programme will be rolled out to 5,000 schoolchildren across the province.

The launch was due to take place today — EU Internet Safety Day — with a Microsoft Internet Safety session in Christ the Redeemer Primary School in Poleglass, Belfast.

PSNI officers are joining with Microsoft Ireland to support EU Internet Safety Day and the campaign to ‘Think Before You Post’.

Microsoft surveyed teenagers across the UK — including Northern Ireland. As well as 64% saying they had been approached online by a stranger through their social networking page, the results also revealed that 65% have responded or contacted a stranger online or via social networking sites.

Microsoft says this should be a cause for serious concern for parents, guardians and teachers. The research also shows that today’s teenagers are sophisticated internet users, with 78% of them actively accessing social networking sites, but Microsoft’s research has shown worrying gaps in their online safety awareness and overall internet education. Almost 60% said their parents/guardians are doing nothing to encourage them to be safe online.

Paul Tanner, from Microsoft Ireland, said: “We take the issue of internet safety very seriously and have continuously invested in schemes and programmes to help educate young users of the internet and their parents about how to use this great resource in a safe and efficient manner.”

Guidelines on internet safety can be viewed online at www.microsoft.com/ireland/onlinesafety.

Factfile

Never use your real name.

Never tell anyone your |address, phone number or the name of your school.

Instead of posting a photo of yourself, use a photo of your favourite band.

Don't post photos or videos that you wouldn't be happy for your parents or teacher to see.

Keep passwords private and don't tell anyone.

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