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Last Updated: Monday, 20 March 2006, 06:13 GMT
Teenage life online
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Do you know someone who spends hours chatting online?
Generations of parents have nagged their teenagers to turn off the TV and find something better to do. Now, it seems, their children may be doing just that.

Chatting with friends online - via services like MSN and Bebo - is beginning to take over from watching TV as the main hobby of many young people.

Much of the chat is happening in so-called "closed community websites". Unlike chatrooms, they're not open to everyone: each person has to be invited to join in.

So, is online chat a good thing - and how safe are closed community websites?

This morning on Breakfast

  • We found out about life online with pupils from one school at Whitefield, greater Manchester

  • We discussed the spectacular rise of closed community websites with the Chief Executive of Bebo, Michael Birch - and with a government internet safety advisor, Dr Rachel O'Connell

  • And, we asked for your views

    WHAT NOT TO DO ONLINE
    Never reveal name, address, phone number or password
    Never reply to nasty or suggestive messages
    Never open e-mail attachments unless they come from someone you trust
    Never meet anyone unless an adult goes with you

    Growing numbers of teenagers are spending hours at a time online, chatting to their friends.

    MSN is popular with many teenagers - but the fastest-growing service is Bebo, launched only eight months ago.

    It sets a minimum age of 13 for participants - and its website does contain safety advice - including a warning to be careful about divulging personal information and arranging to meet cyber friends offline.

    Parents and teachers worry that, however well-policed, online chat can be used for bullying, in exactly the same way as text messages.

    Some schools have also expressed concern over the amount of time teenagers spend online, instead of doing their homework.



  • BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
    Social networking online
    We talked to Bebo's Michael Birch and safety expert Rachel O'Connell



    BBC Breakfast

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    SEE ALSO:
    Q&A: Keeping safe on the net
    12 Jan 04 |  Technology
    Your Comments
    10 Dec 04 |  Breakfast


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