Internet a risky affair for EU kids


BRUSSELS -- Forty% of European children who have been on the Internet have seen porn there, according to figures released Tuesday to promote Safer Internet Day.

The figures -- released by EU Kids Online and produced by the London School of Economics -- show that children in Poland were most likely to have encountered pornography (71%,), followed by kids in the U.K. (51%).

The figures -- part of a full report due to be published in June -- showed that, of the dangers facing EU children on the Internet, the most common was the risk of giving out personal information that might then be used to steal their identities or be used against them somehow.

The second most common danger encountered by EU children online was pornography, followed by violent or harmful content, which 31% of U.K. online kids saw -- the same proportion as in the rest of Europe. Then came bullying, harassment or stalking.

Social networking spread fast across Europe last year. In Norway, for example, 93% of 12-17-year-olds use social networking sites. And even in countries where the Internet arrived more recently, social networking is popular -- with more than two-thirds of high school students in Estonia, for instance.

About 8% of European children online had met people offline that they had only met online -- though a striking 65% of children in the Czech Republic had meetings in real life with people they had only met online before. Czech teenagers also were more likely to give out personal information to a stranger: 91% gave e-mail addresses, 79% gave their picture and 72% gave their phone number.

Poland also stood out as a high-risk country for teens online across a range of risks, with 56% of teenage girls online being subject to unwanted sexual conversation, and 52% of 12-17-year-olds being invited to meet an online contact offline -- of those, 44% went to a meeting and few told an adult.