44pc of kids have Facebook friends they’ve never met

7 Feb 2012

Around 12pc of kids accept any friend request they receive on Facebook and nearly half (44pc) have friends on Facebook they’ve never met in real life, a study compiled for Safer Internet Day today reveals.

The study by Trend Micro for Internet Safety Day reveals that half of children also use the internet mostly on their own, unsupervised, and admit to not telling the truth about bad experiences they’ve had online.

Some 49pc admitted they have never reviewed the privacy settings on social networks.

The key, says Trend Micro senior vice-president Anthony O’Mara, is to strike a balance between safety and learning.

“Keeping our children safe online is critical, but so is ensuring our kids are fluent in the technology that will shape their futures. The key is to strike a balance between helping kids stay safe online yet allowing them to maintain a sense of independence,” says O’Mara. “We’ve developed a programme to help parents better manage their kids’ online safety and to create an opportunity to talk openly about internet safety, and to identify and prevent possible problems before they happen.”

What’s Your Story €3,000 competition for schools

In order to spread the word on Safer Internet usage, Trend Micro staff are holding information and training workshops for parents and teachers through the primary school network in Ireland.

For secondary school kids, Trend Micro has developed a peer-to-peer education programme, whereby the Internet Safety team at Trend Micro train transition-year students to inform and educate the other students in their schools. To date, more than 60 schools have subscribed to the programme and information and training sessions will be organised in the coming weeks.

“There has been great interest in the Internet Safety for Kids & Families programme being run by Trend Micro,” explains Avril Ronan, programme co-ordinator at Trend Micro for the Internet Safety for Kids & Families programme in Ireland.

“We have already held information and training sessions in numerous schools and we have a busy itinerary for the coming weeks. It’s a really important initiative and one that we feel passionately about at Trend Micro. The internet is a great place for children to learn and have fun, but it is important to be aware of the safety aspects, just like in the real world,”

A “What’s Your Story” competition, which encourages young people to lead the way in education about the internet and online safety, is also part of the Internet Safety programme run by Trend Micro.

The competition invites children ages 7 and over to submit a poem, story, picture or video about internet safety to be in with a chance to win €3,000 for the winner and a school runner-up prize of €1,000.

Trend Micro has teamed up with WebWise, Discovery Science Festival, Facebook and ReAssureMe.com to form the judging panel for the What’s Your Story Competition 2012 in Ireland.

internet safety day

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years