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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 July 2006, 12:12 GMT 13:12 UK
Danger of webcams for children
A webcam
There are risks allowing children to have webcams in their bedroom
A British children's internet charity has advised parents to ban young people from using webcams in their bedrooms.

The advice was issued after news broke that up to 42 girls from Kent could be among the victims of a man facing pornography charges in Canada.

Mark Bedford from Ontario is accused of tricking girls into exposing themselves on webcams in their homes and threatening them if they didn't.

Canadian police say they are surprised at the amount of access children have to technology in their own bedrooms.

At a police news conference, Sergeant Frank Goldschmidt said: "It amazes me to this day that parents allow their children to be locked up in their bedrooms with state-of-the-art computer equipment and then they get involved in this type of activity."

Stephen Carrick Davies, the chief executive of Childnet, a children's internet charity, warned parents to be more aware of the dangers that the internet poses.

Remember people online might not be who they say they are
Never use your real name in chat rooms - pick an online nickname
Never give out your phone number, address or any personal information
Never send photos of yourself
Never respond to nasty or rude messages
Stop the conversation immediately if you start to feel uncomfortable or suspicious
Avoid sites meant for adults
Never agree to meet someone you've only met through a chatroom
Speak to your parents if you have any worries about using the internet
Source: NSPCC

He told the BBC: "Children think this environment that they're involved in is really their space, it's a very personal and private medium but obviously when they are showing off in a webcam they have to be very, very, very careful.

"Parents have to realise that this stuff is going anywhere not just as a school prank or just going to friends, it's going into a very public space.

...it is not wise to include a webcam on a computer certainly in a child's bedroom."

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children warned parents and children to be aware that many paedophiles access the net, and issued their tips on how to keep safe.

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