Safe surfing will be the message from Disney later this month with the launch of a Web awareness week.
From 20 September children and their families throughout UK, France and Germany will be given guidelines on how to use the Internet safely and offered precautions against downloading unsuitable material.
The Disney sponsored Safe Surfing Week aims to publicise the need for better awareness of basic common sense precautions when using the Web with “fun, games and tips” available both online and in popular magazines and the Disney TV channel.
A pan European survey commissioned by Disney Online found that although parents were excited about the educational value of the Internet, many were concerned about the negative aspects that their children could encounter.
According to initial results of the survey, 52 per cent of British parents, 55 per cent of French and 61 per cent of German parents said that they were reluctant to allow their children to surf the Internet alone.
As many as 48 per cent of UK children and 64 per cent of German children have had an upsetting or frightening experience while surfing the Internet.
Chafic Najia, senior vice president and managing director, Disney Online, said: “This research shows parents all over Europe are waking up to the educational and entertainment power of the Internet and want their children to be a part of it, but are concerned about safety. This issue is why Disney Online is launching Safe Surfing Week.”
Safe surfing week has been endorsed by organisations such as European Schools Net, National Grid for learning and the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).
Nigel Williams, director of Childnet International and member of the IWF policy board, said: “This is a very positive move by Disney, to give prominence to this issue on their Web site and other media. There is an enormous need for advice for parents and we are very supportive of the week. We would like to see this initiative implemented by other companies.”
John Carr, an Internet consultant for NCH Action for Children, said: “It’s a great idea, anything that promotes awareness is greatly welcome. The industry should be doing more.”
Williams from Childnet added: “It can be hard to make parents aware of Internet safety when kids are so keen to go on the Web and with interesting activities for children it is an important kind of encouragement and direction. Those that provide access to the Internet need to have this kind of advice for families at the top of their priorities.”
Disney Online is www.disney.co.uk.
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