Concerns over unsupervised use of the internet by children.

Parents are being urged to supervise the use of the internet by their children.

The possibility of an internet link in the case of the two missing girls has again raised concerns about the dangers of unsupervised use of the net.

Chatrooms, which are hugely popular with young people, offer a way for predators to make contact with children. Karin Whooley, project manager at the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE), outlines how the chatrooms work, the information users are asked for, and the private conversations "whispers" that take place online.

It is through whispering that predators get to know children and win their confidence.

In a recent survey of one thousand young internet users in Ireland, over three-quarters say that they were asked for a face-to-face meeting with the person with whom they were chatting.

Jerome Morrissey, Director of NCTE, outlines the dangers of moving from an online conversation to the real world.

Children are at most risk while using the internet at home. At school, their use of the internet is always supervised. The Internet Advisory Board says that the idea of predators using the internet to prey on children is very real and parents need to become more aware. John Haskins of the Internet Advisory Board says that the idea that a child would meet a complete stranger is a very dangerous one.

We never know who we're talking to on the internet.

The reality of this threat was demonstrated today with the arrest of 20 people from the US and Europe, all accused of sexually abusing their own children and sharing photographs online.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 9 August 2002. The reporter is Aoife Kavanagh.