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Last Updated: Friday, 29 February 2008, 12:52 GMT
EU extends net safety programme
Teenager using the net, SPL
The Safer Internet programme educates children about net dangers
The European Commission is spending 55m euros (42m) on making the net a safer place for children.

The money will be spent over four years on educational efforts and ways to protect children from inappropriate content and cyber bullying.

It will also research the ways that children use the net on computers and other devices such as mobile phones.

The broad-based project will build on the Safer Internet Programme the EU began in 2000.

Action plan

"As more and more European children and adolescents use online technologies at home or at school, they, their parents and their teachers need to be informed about the opportunities and risks they face," said Jose Barroso, EC president in a statement.

The original Safer Internet Programme produced materials for schools and youth groups and co-ordinated the annual Safer Internet Day.

The extended project, which will run from 2009-2013, will continue this work but add some more concrete objectives.

These will include the creation of national contact points to report illegal content and attempts at grooming; giving support to groups to which parents and children can turn for advice about safe net use, and the establishment of a forum where best practice can be shared and debated.

In a separate development, net experts at Harvard University will spend 12 months studying how children can avoid unwanted attention when using the web.

Run by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard the Internet Safety Technical Task Force will aim to research and recommend practices that sites can adopt to make themselves safer places for children.

The impetus for the task force came out of an agreement social network site MySpace reached with every US state attorney general, except Texas, in early January.

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