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Number of children endangered by online dating on rise

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Prague, June 13 (CTK) – The number of Czech children exposed to risks related to online dating has been rising, a survey completed by Olomouc university experts together with O2 mobile operator and released on Tuesday has shown.

The number of children who share their private photos and videos on the Internet doubled in the past five years and reached 15 percent.

A half of children communicate with unknown people online and one third have been asked not to tell anyone about their communication.

About 60 percent children said their parents do not restrict their time online, and almost the same number said they have a PC or laptop in their room.

“Some 80 percent of children has unrestricted access to unsuitable websites, although simple methods exist to prevent it,” O2’s expert Tomas Minka said.

About 75 percent of children consider the risk of sharing private photos (sexting) very risky.

However, adult deviants are able to win children’s confidence, manipulate and blackmail them,” Kamil Kopecky, the head of the research team from the E-Security project, said.

Sixty-seven percent of children share their face portrait photo online.

Seventeen percent said they were asked to send their intimate photo by someone, and one fourth of them met the request.

According to Kopecky, it often happens that children reciprocate a photo sent to them be their online friend, who passed it for his/her own portrait.

“The face photo is the most sensitive piece of personal data. It may be added to any naked body and the perpetrator can start blackmailing the child,” Kopecky said.

The survey showed that a half of children would not decline to meet an unknown person if asked to online.

Two thirds, nevertheless, would tell their parents about it, while the rest would tell a friend at the most.

One third of children have already been asked for such a date and some 20 percent of them met the request.

In case their private materials are abused, children have problem telling someone about it because the situation is too sensitive for them. As a result, two thirds of parents never learn about their children’s problems, Kopecky said.

The first 40 children turned to the Safety Line over problems online in 2007, and their number rose to over 600 in 2016, its director Peter Porubsky said.

Cyberstalking is the most frequent problem the children complain of. Sexting makes up 5 percent of the case and it tends to rise, he said.

The survey involved 4,878 students aged from seven to 17 all over the country.

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