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Three quarters of teens using social networking have been approached by a stranger

Three out of every four Irish teens using social networking sites have been approached online by a stranger.

The shocking revelation came as Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe confirmed that he is now to add internet safety to the Junior Cert curriculum.

The decision came after an alarming Microsoft study revealed that 71pc of Irish teens questioned confirmed that they had found themselves in this situation.

Incredibly, 43pc admitted that they had responded to these unsolicited approaches "out of curiosity".

The study found that a whopping 79p of Irish teens use social networking websites on a regular basis.

Minister O'Keeffe confirmed to the Evening Herald that he now intends to ensure internet safety is added to the curriculum under the Social Personal Health Education (SPHE) course heading.

"We are putting together a website package for schools right around the country outlining to them the importance of the internet and the safety measures that should go with it," he explained.

"We are putting packages into every school to make them aware of some of the difficulties that might arise. We need to be vigilant and young people need to ensure that there is a public and a private life. Everything that is uploaded on the internet can be used for purposes other than what it was meant for. It is a simple safety device," he added.

"We are going to have it as part of the curriculum because if we are integrating ICT into the classroom and classroom teaching, we also have to ensure that we have safety measures in place at all times to ensure they are knowledgeable of both the dangers and the virtues of the internet," the Minister said.

The Microsoft survey found that:

62pc of those surveyed said their parents/guardians had done nothing to encourage them to be safe online.

66pc of teens said they believed it was perfectly safe to post personal data online.

58pc of parents said they were confident that their children are taking necessary safety precautions with the information they are sharing online.

73pc of parents said they took measures to control their child's use of the internet.

46pc said they monitor their child's online movements and regular postings.

Now, Minister O'Keeffe said that the Department, the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE), the Gardai and technology firms such as Microsoft will be working to promote "safe and common-sense" web usage.

To support the initiative, Microsoft sent teams to 70 primary schools across Ireland yesterday to underline the safe web-usage message.

Microsoft boss Paul Rellis said internet safety has to be taken seriously.

"We have continuously invested in schemes and programmes to help educate young users of the internet and their parents about how to use this great resource in a safe and efficient manner," he said.

"As part of Safer Internet Day we are partnering with the Government, educa-tional representatives and law enforcement agencies to highlight the importance of this issue.