1 in 10 young children in online date with stranger

1 in 5 Flemish children have a secret e-mail account, while almost 6 in 10 have pretended to be someone else online. 1 in 10 children going to primary school have dated someone they only know from online conversations. That's according to a poll that involved Flemish children between the age of 8 and 12. "There is no problem as such if children do something secretly, but it does involve certain risks", claims researcher Stefan Bogaerts.
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The large-scale research involved 1,437 children, De Standaard reveals. It was carried out by the B-CCENTRE, a platform for collaboration and coordination with regard to cybercrime matters in Belgium, which is linked to Leuven University.

"It's normal for young children that are growing up to do something sneaky. However, there are big risks involved, because there are many adult persons on the worldwide web. When we look at things globally, we see that are an estimated 700,000 users online at each moment of the day that have bad intentions, especially with children." 

If you have concerns as a parent, there is not a lot you can do in the above-mentioned cases. Children can, for example, also go online when their parents have gone out. 1 in 6 use secret codes to inform the person at the other end of the line that the parents are keeping an eye on things. 53 per cent of the children admit to finding ways to get around their parents' checks.

The statistics (youngsters aged between 8 and 12):

10% admit having dated a grown-up person in real life despite only knowing him or her online

18.7% have a secret e-mail account, chat name or other profile that the parents don't know of

48.5% are going online without their parents' consent

53.5% manage to escape the parents' checks

58% have pretended to be someone else on the internet, or pretended to be one of the parents