Games consoles put kids at risk from online predators, Priti Patel warns

PARENTS have been warned that games consoles and phones could put kids at risk from online predators.

Millions of youngsters will be spending more time than ever online with their new gadgets – making them a target for online predators.

A new report found that six in ten eight-year-olds and nine in ten 12-years-olds admitted to using a messaging app with an age restriction of 13 and over.

And one in ten youngsters say they have used a messaging service to talk to people they don’t already know.

Home Secretary Priti Patel yesterday issued a timely reminder to mums and dads to keep an eye on their children’s activities and make themselves aware of the dangers.

She said: “As a parent myself, I know how much of our children’s lives are spent online.

"I am also aware of the dangers this technology can present, which is why I am urging all parents to look at the guidelines we have published so that we all know how to ensure their children are safe online.

“Nothing is more important than the safety of our children and the Government is firmly committed to making the UK the safest place in the world to be online.

“Working with the National Crime Agency and law enforcement partners we continue to take all necessary measures to protect young people online, and bring the sick individuals who prey on innocent children to justice.”

Offenders target children online using shocking and diverse methods to exploit innocent kids on a frightening scale.

Last year, 69 million images of child sexual abuse were found and reported by US tech giants.

David Wilson, 36, from Norfolk, targeted more than 5,000 children, pretending to be a teenage girl to persuade vulnerable young boys to send images and videos of themselves.

He has admitted 96 abuse offences against 51 boys aged four to 14.

Last year, the Government gave £20.7 million to the NCA to target some of the most sophisticated and dangerous offenders online and bring them to justice.

New laws were announced last month to ensure tech companies keep their users, and particularly children, safe.

This included strong powers for the regulator to require companies to identify child sexual exploitation and abuse on all parts of their service, including messaging apps.

In addition, the Government has also published extensive safety guides for parents and children about how to protect themselves online and will soon be publishing a first of its kind national strategy to tackle child sexual abuse in all its forms.

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