The European Commission will spend €55m next year on a programme to make the internet safer for children.
The Safer Internet programme will fight grooming and bullying by making online software and mobile technologies more sophisticated and secure, said the European Commssion.
The programme aims to protect children and empower them to use web services such as social networking, blogging and instant messaging safely.
Seventy five per cent of children aged between six and 17 are online, and 50% of 10-year-olds have a mobile phone, according to a Eurobarometer survey published yesterday.
The research showed that 60% of European parents are worried that their child might become a victim of online grooming (when an adult befriends a child with the intention of committing sexual abuse). Fifty four per cent said their children could be bullied online.
The Council of Ministers yesterday adopted the programme (IP/08/1571) following a overwhelming vote for it on 23 October in the European Parliament.
The proposed new programme will co-fund projects to:
• Increase public awareness: empower young people, their parents and teachers to make responsible choices online by advising them on precautions.
• Provide the public with a network of contact points, reached via a website or a phone number, for reporting illegal and harmful content and conduct, in particular on child sexual abuse material, grooming and cyberbullying.
• Foster self-regulatory initiatives in this field and involve children in creating a safer online environment.
• Establish a knowledge base on trends in the use of online technologies and their consequences for children's lives by bringing together at European level technical, psychological and sociological expertise.