The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, a UK police organisation dedicated to tackling child sexual abuse, has launched an online safety programme.
The initiative, in association with Becta, focuses on the Think U Know 'cyber-café'. The site aims to allow children between the ages of eight and 11 years to meet and learn about different aspects of online safety at their own pace.
Through a series of games, the children can help the characters use the internet to complete their homework, send emails and text messages, post online forums and a host of other activities safely.
There is also a glossary for children to use should they need help in understanding the language of the online world.
It is intended that the free programme can be delivered either as a standalone online service for children and parents at home, or in schools where teachers can download lesson plans and other resources.
Parents can also find help by visiting the site, where programmes have been designed to guide visitors through the technology.
It explains the different ways in which children are using the internet, as well as giving practical advice on how to protect them.
The service provides useful first-warning signs in how the behaviour of young people may change if they are being targeted by offenders.
Jim Gamble, chief executive of the CEOP Centre, said: "What we have learned from children and teachers is that children as young as eight are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their use of the internet.
"But where the natural, innocent naivety of children collides with the open and often unrestricted nature of the virtual world, their safety is always going to be called into question."
CEOP receives an average of 10 reports a month relating specifically to children between the ages of 8-11 years.
But, according to Ofcom, over 40 per cent of this age group are regularly using the internet and seven per cent of 10 year-olds have their own webcams.
"We want children to use the internet. We want them to benefit from the whole multitude of opportunities it opens up. But we want them to do it in a way that safeguards their time in the virtual world," said Gamble.
"So we are encouraging them to sit down with adults they trust, explore the resources we have launched and to think about what they are doing. That makes sense all round."
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