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September 14, 2011

Europe's Children Remain at Risk from Online Dangers: EU Report
By Ed Silverstein
TMCnet Contributor

Children living in the nations of the European Union remain at risk because of multiple online dangers – ranging from web bullies to pedophiles, according to a new EU report.

The member countries of the EU are not doing enough to protect their children from illegal or harmful online content, the report says.

They also need to do more to ensure children access age-appropriate content, make sure that children are safe while on social networks, and protect children from harmful video games, according to the EU.

There is also a need to upgrade hotline systems, the EU says.

Proposals to improve safety will be issued later in 2011.

Neelie Kroes, commission vice president for the EU’s Digital Agenda, said in a public statement that, "Children are going online more, and younger, and are exploring an exciting digital world of opportunity.”



“But we urgently need 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,” she adds. “We need to give parents and teachers the confidence to take on their responsibilities.”

The report noted how one out of three children, aged 9-12, and three out of four teenagers aged 13-16, who use the Internet have a profile on a social networking site.

But just two websites – Bebo and MySpace (News - Alert) – have controls in place so "potential strangers" cannot access children’s’ profiles, The AFP reports.

There are also many differences among the members of the EU on “how hotlines check the illegality of, or the harm involved in, the content reported to them, track its source and notify it to the competent authorities,” the report said.

The report also suggests there be more use of age-rating systems for online games and retailers become more aware of the age-ratings.

Earlier this year, Kroes noted how Europeans will see overall improved online privacy and safety, according to TMCnet. 

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Ed Silverstein is a TMCnet contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

 

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