A campaign aimed at children aged just five years old to raise awareness over the dangers of social networking has been launched in the UK, coinciding with EU Internet Safety Day.

Created by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, the campaign uses cartoons to show five to seven-year-olds that people on the internet are not always who they claim to be.

Research suggests that around 80% of children in the UK use social networking sites such as Facebook, Bebo and Twitter.

The campaign has the support of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop), who are behind a number of campaigns to encourage safer browsing to protect young people one internet. One of the founding principles being that by raising awareness of online risks at an early age, children will be better protected as they grow up.

One of Ceop’s main innovations has been the introduction of a “Report Abuse” button that has been rolled out onto a number of websites and has led to around 500 cases a week being reported, four of which are from a child at an “immediate” risk of harm..

“Unfortunately, some of the victims we see here are very young,” said Ceop Head Jim Gamble.

“People will try to find out where they are, where they go to school. Children can expose themselves to unnecessary risk.

“We do see children who are younger and younger being exposed to risk – and the risk is not always clear. There are a number of subtle messages.

“Unbelievably some of these children have access to webcams, but that’s the world we live in.”

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