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HYDERABAD: A recent survey by Intel Security pinpoints an alarming trend among children in Indian cities having met and wanting to meet complete strangers, with whom they have first interacted on social networking sites. The survey also finds that children admit to having shared `personal’ details, like photographs, phone numbers, house address and other sensitive (family) information – with strangers who they befriend on social media.The study titled `Teens, Tweens and Technology survey’ examined online behaviours and social networking habits of children aged between 8 to 16 years. “The study also surveyed the concerns of parents and found that when it comes to online activity, parents believe that the worst thing that could happen to their children is interacting with strangers online. This concern is warranted given that 44 per cent of the children who polled would meet or have met someone in person, they first met online,” an extract from the survey reads.As per the cyber crime police, the trend prevails in the twin cities as established in a number of cases cracked by cops in the recent past.
Out of the 175 cyber crime cases registered this year, cops indicated that 70 per cent have an element of sharing information with unknown persons by the victim, while in others information is accessed through hacking.In a case registered a week back, an unsuspecting victim who had chatted with someone she thought she knew (was posing as a colleague) was actually chatting with a hacker who had hacked the phone of a known friend.The victim was threatened later on to share explicit photographs for not divulging details of her chats with the colleague. It was the friend of the victim who had befriended a stranger and shared her phone number, following which, her mobile was hacked and misused. “Chatting with unknown people especially by youngsters is found to be the reason behind a majority of cyber crime cases. Apart from this, even chatting with known people can be dangerous due to identity theft, hacking and other such crimes.
Unless you cross check the identity of the person you are chatting with, there is no reason to believe that one is chatting with the correct person. Chatting with unknown people is outright dangerous,” said S Jayaram, assistant commissioner of police (cyber crime), Cyberabad.Also the recent case of a 21-year-old engineering student Abdul Majid, befriending many schoolgoing girls and threatening them to share explicit photographs, is another example. “When the case was cracked, it was found that there were 200 victims who Majid had befriended online and many victims had shared personal information and even photographs online. Most school girls thought it was a female chatting at the opposite end but it shows clearly how unsuspecting children tend to share information,” added the official.Meanwhile, the survey points out that despite majority of the parents claim to have had a discussion with their children about risks of social media and monitoring the child’s online activity, 64 per cent of the children indicated that they have hidden their online activity from parents and were able to deceive them. This might be a reason for parents to need to be doubly cautious.