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Caught in the web! (chat dangers for kids)

An important lesson for kids and for parents. This is a Newsround special programme all about staying safe on the internet. The show, which is voiced by David Tennant, tells the story of a girl called LostPrincess, who gets into danger after meeting someone in a chatroom.

Did you know there's a fantastical world where you can be whoever you want and do whatever your heart desires? It may sound like a far away place, but it's closer than you think.
This place is the internet. And for one lonely princess, it was everything she needed. From her attic room at the top of a giant castle, she could do whatever she liked.

But it is also the place where Evil Arrow lives. Dangerous things happen when he's around. Things you wouldn't want to happen to you. Our story about LostPrincess and her new friend WhiteKnight is made up.
- Hi!
- Hey, princess!
But what happens to the children we meet when Evil Arrow comes along is very, very real.

Now, where was I? Oh, yes, our heroine, LostPrincess, she lived in a castle. Except, I suppose... well, it wasn't a castle, more like a house on a street, alongside hundreds of others. LostPrincess took a lot of care over her appearance, but online, there were no limits. She could look however she wanted.

- I've got green hair. No, it just has to be purple.

And to go with her purple hair, she chose a bright orange dress. Orange was her favourite colour.
- After purple.
- Can I carry on?
- Perfect, now I'm just right.

- Hey, how are you doing?

In WonderWeb world, ++++ people to me. Lostprinces quickly made friends.

- Hi, I'm WhiteKnight.
- I'm LostPrincess.

Poison Apple appearing live and online.
- Poison Apple are so cool.
- Yeah, they're my favourite band.
- I've seen them play live.
- Wow. I'm so jealous. My mum wouldn't let me go.
- Why not?
- She said I was too young.
- Mums are so dumb.
- Yeah, I know.

- Darling, I've been calling you, it's time for tea.
- OK.
- What are you up to in here?
- Just homework.
- Hmm. Not usually this keen.
- I'm finished now anyway.
- OK, see you downstairs.

Don't forget your password, LostPrincess, if you leave it there for anyone to find, you never know where it might end up.
- I'm not that stupid.

That's what everyone thinks, but watch out! Here comes Evil Arrow. Remember, bad things happen when he's around. We've used actors to protect the real children's identities, but remember, these stories are all true.

Lucy kept her password on her mobile.

- Why don't you take her phone?
- OK, hold my bag for me.

So when she had her phone stolen by bullies, they were able to get on to her profile.

- What shall we put?
- "I fancy Darren."
- What, that spotty kid in year nine?
- Yeah
- Oh, he's gross.
- Let's say stuff about everyone.
- Yeah, then they'll all hate her.

Lucy had used the same password for her e-mail account, so the bullies could read her mail and send nasty messages to anyone.

She's such a loner, she's got no friends.
Hey, Lucy, saw you at school today, your hair looks awful.
Who cuts it, your nan?

Lucy felt alone and upset, but because they weren’t actually hurting her she wasn't sure if it was bullying or not.

- Ah, is the baby crying?
- Are you fed up of our nice little chats?
- Shame, ‘cause we haven't even started.
- You tell a naught and you're dead.

Enough was enough. And Lucy told her dad everything. And he called the police. They said it was bullying and that Lucy could have told someone sooner.

I got a new phone number, new profile and new messenger account. I keep my password locked away in here and I never leave the computer without logging off. Things quickly returned to normal for Lucy, but she definitely learned her lesson. So, LostPrincess, remember what happened to Lucy. Keep your password safe and never let anyone else log into your account.

- I wouldn't be bullied anyway, I've got loads of mates.

That's what LostPrincess liked to think, after all, she'd made friends with WhiteKnight really quickly. He was easy to talk to. But when faced with real people, she never quite knew what to say. That was OK though, because her online friends were always ready to talk. She had more contacts than she could count, but there was one person she spoke to every day. Whenever she came online, he was waiting.

- What are you doing in here?
- Nothing.
- What’s the matter?
- Home stuff. My parents are really horrible.
- Yeah, mine too. My mum's always out at work. She doesn't care about me at all.

LostPrincess, that's not true!

- I wish I could leave home sometimes.
- Me too. I can't wait.
- How old are you?

LostPrincess, be careful about the information you share.

How old do you think?
- About 13?
- Yeah, good guess, I'm 13.
- No, you're not, you're 11.

If I tell him that, he might not like me.

LostPrincess began to spend more and more time at the computer. Even when she was supposed to be in bed. Just like Kieron. Kieron started playing games when he was seven years old. He did it with his friends at first. But they usually got bored and wanted to do something else. Kieron never got bored. By the time he was 13, he was playing every night after school.

- And now I can play online, which means can I play against anyone in the world and beat them too.

He was so busy getting better and better that some nights he didn't have time to go to bed. He even stopped washing or cleaning his teeth. His parents were getting worried about the time he was spending in his room.

- That's it, son, I'm taking the computer away.
- No, you can't!
- You're on it 13 hours a day.
- I'll cut down, I promise.
- One more chance.

But Kieron didn't stop himself. He would fall asleep in class before rushing home to get online and then he'd play and play long after his parents went to bed. By the time he was 15, he'd dropped out of school and Kieron realised enough was enough.

- Dad, I think I need help.
- I think so too, son.

Kieron's parents found him a clinic that helped young people with addiction.

- Slowly, I got better and started to fill all my time with the things the computer made me forget.

Back to LostPrincess. Like Kieron, she spent hours on her computer, chatting to WhiteKnight. But there was one thing bothering her.

- I wish I knew what you look like.

So WhiteKnight chose a photo to send. But how did she know it was him? She was taking his word for it. He could have sent a real photo, or he could have sent a photo of anyone. LostPrincess decided to send a photo as well. But suppose he didn't like her? Suppose he realised she wasn't 13? So she spent hours taking the right picture to send. White Knight really liked her photo. Now he sent her messages all the time, even when she was at school.

- Surprise!
- What are you doing?
- Guess who's got tickets to see Poison Apple live?
- Seriously?
- Yes, you and me, 7 o'clock tonight.
- But I don't know if I can.
- Yea, cause you said you could go last time. Don’t you want to come?
- I will, I just won't tell her.

WhiteKnight made her feel special and now she was going to meet him for real. Charlotte was excited about her new online friend too. Charlotte got up early in the morning to go on the family computer. She had to lie on her profile and say she was 13, not 12. She shouldn't have done it, but she felt it was OK, ‘cause all her friends were doing it too.

- I've got a friend request.
- Do you know who it's from?
- Only one way the find out.

- Morning.
- Morning.
- Someone's up early.

 Charlotte's mum didn't like her talking to people online.

- What are you up to today?
- Nothing.

And mum was so old-fashioned. What was the point of phoning just one person, when online, you could talk to anyone you wanted?

- Hmm. He's a friend of friend from school. He says thanks for adding me.

The boy commented Charlotte and Charlotte commented him back. They talked about music and TV, her favourite foods. He was really interested in what she had to say. So Charlotte gave him her messenger address.

- It's OK, I know him now and he's older than me, so he is sensible.

But when he was talking to Charlotte on her own, the boy was different. He asked her about stuff she wouldn't want anyone else to read. She tried not to talk to him so much, but it was hard, because he was always there. And then one day, he got her mobile phone number.
- It was an accident. My friend was asking. It wasn't meant for him.

Now he texted all the time. Charlotte didn't know what to do. She didn't want to be rude.

- Charlotte, no phone at the table. You haven't said a word to us all night. Will you put that thing away?
- No! Let go!
- That's enough.
- Give it back!
- Ridiculous.
- That's my private property. I hate you!

Charlotte was arranging to meet the boy the next day. Or she was, until her mum read the text.
- Charlotte...
It turned out the boy wasn't a boy at all. He was a grown-up. And if Charlotte had gone to meet him, it could have been very dangerous. It's not your fault.

- And it wasn't just me, he was talking to lots of other girls as well, telling them the same as he did to me. That he was a friend of a friend. But the thing about the internet is that you could be talking to anyone.

But LostPrincess was sure she knew exactly who WhiteKnight was. She had a photo. But when she got to the gate, no one matched this picture. He would turn up, wouldn’t he?

- Queues, eh?

She sent him a text. Maybe he was already inside. Where are you, White Knight? The gig's about to start. Shall I see you inside?

She'd felt happy online, but LostPrincess had never been to a real gig before and began to feel like she shouldn't have come.

- WhiteKnight, I'm going home.
- Is it your mum?
- No.
- What's the matter?
- I'm not 13, I'm 11.
- Oh.
- See? Now you're really angry. You don't want to see me any more.
- I do. I'd like you whatever age you are.
- Really?
- You'd like me just the same, wouldn't you?
- Yeah, of course.
- If I was 14 or 40?
- 40?!
- I've got something to tell you, too. It's all right, princess, it's WhiteKnight.

- Oi, what are you doing here, mate? This gig's for kids.

WhiteKnight had been lying all along just to get LostPrincess to like him. He knew it was wrong to talk to children he didn't know. But that didn't stop him. Meeting them online meant no-one would know who he really was. And because he was a grown-up, he knew how to get people like LostPrincess to trust him.

- All right, mate, this way.

LostPrincess began to see how little she knew WhiteKnight. Looking back through her texts, she realised how much danger she could have been in.

- Want to come to mine? Have you ever snogged anyone? Keep it a secret from your mum.

- You coming in? It's started.
- No, sorry.

Now LostPrincess could see that she should never have trusted WhiteKnight. She'd never be friends with someone like that in the real world. So she did the only thing that she could.

- Mum, can you come and get me?
- Don't worry, I'm on my way.

Did you know there's a fantastical world where you can be whoever you want and do whatever your heart desires?

But always keep your personal details and password secret and be careful what you share, and remember when you're online, not everyone can be trusted. So if something doesn't feel right, tell someone in the real word.

I'm LostPrincess and I live in a castle, but it's not really a castle, it's just my bedroom.

WHOEVER= Anybody, everybody, no matter who.

WHATEVER= Anything, everything, no matter what.

LONELY= Feeling sad because you feel alone.

EVIL= wicked, morally bad (the opposite of “good”)

KNIGHT= (originally, in medieval Europe) a person who served his lord as a mounted (on horse) and heavily armed soldier. Today it evokes the idea of a brave and handsome gentleman who will do anything to please and protect a lady.

MADE UP= invented, not real.

WHERE WAS I?= What was I talking about?, in what part of my narrative was I?

MORE LIKE…= More similar to…

HOWEVER= Anyway, in every manner, no matter how.

CARRY ON= Continue.

JUST RIGHT= Perfect; exactly the way it should be.

HOW ARE YOU DOING?= (col.) how are you?

LIVE= /laɪv/ Not broadcasted through a recorded event on the radio, the internet or TV but you hear/see it happening at the exact moment that it is really happening.

JEALOUS= When you feel bad because other people get something good you want but you don’t have.

DUMB= Silly, stupid.

TEA= In many parts of Great Britain “tea” is another word for “dinner”, so if mum calls you for tea, she’s probably calling you because dinner is ready.

WHAT ARE YOU UP TO?= What are you doing? What are you plotting? (it implies you are suspicious about what the other person is doing or planning to do, as if it was nothing good, but very often we use this question simply to show we are curious about what you’re doing)

NOT USUALLY THIS KEEN= You are not usually so interested in that.

WATCH OUT!= Be careful!

BULLIES= A bully is a child who terrorizes other children (often at school).

SPOTTY= With spots or pimples (esp. on your face, as with acne)

GROSS= Offensive, disgusting; with a very unpleasant appearance.

STUFF= (col.) things.

NASTY= Disgusting, repulsive, very bad.

A LONER= A solitary person.

AWFUL= Terrible.

NAN= (col.) Nanny.  A woman who looks after a baby or little children at home.

UPSET= Angry, cross; sad.

BULLYING= The act of children abusing other children and making bad things to them (esp. at school)

FED UP OF= Tired of.

SHAME= It’s a shame, it’s a pity. You say this when you think something is wrong and you feel sad, sorry or upset about it.

CAUSE= (col.) Because.

YOU TELL A NAUGHT AND YOU’RE DEAD= If you say something about this, you’ll have a big big problem. NAUGHT= Nothing; zero; something insignificant.

LOADS= (col.) Many, lot.

MATES= (BrE) Friends.

I CAN’T WAIT= (to show impatience and excitement) I really want it to happen as soon as possible.

SOMETHING ELSE= Another thing; something different.

BEAT= If you beat someone in a game or competition, you win and they lose.

THAT’S IT= That’s enough, stop!

CUT DOWN= Reduce (in this case, reduce the amount of time he’s playing on the computer)

RUSHING= If you rush to a place, you go there very quickly.

DROP OUT OF SCHOOL= Abandon your studies.

MORNING= (col.) Good morning.

WHAT WAS THE POINT OF...= There was no reason to..., it was stupid to...

ADDING= On social networks, such as Facebook, if you “add someone” (or: add someone as a friend) you mark them as a friend and they come to be part of your online network.

COMMENT= Send a comment on a social network such as Facebook.
- The boy commented Charlotte and Charlotte commented him back = The boy sent a message to Charlotte through Facebook (etc) and Charlotte answered her message (the particle BACK often expresses that the action returns to the origin, in this case, to the sender)
SENSIBLE= A person who does reasonable and wise things.

TEXTED= To text is to send messages through the mobile phone (AmE cell phone).

NO PHONE AT THE TABLE= Don’t use your mobile phone when at lunch/dinner time.

YOU HAVEN’T SAID A WORD= You’ve said nothing, you didn’t speak.

TURN UP= Come (when you have an appointment or date)

QUEUES= /kwju:z/ Lines (people waiting to go in)

GIG= (col.) A music concert.

WANT TO COME TO MINE?= Do you want to come to my house?

SNOG= (Br Ecol.) Kiss and cuddle.

I’M ON MY WAY= I’m coming.

A modern fable in which a girl makes a new friend on the Internet,  but when they arrange to meet in the real world, she discovers he's actually an adult. Along the way, she ignores warnings from "Evil Arrow", who's dramatised case studies feature the real life stories of kids who have been the victims of cyber bullies, hackers, spammers and cheats.

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