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IF EVER there was something designed to highlight the generation gap, then attitudes to life online would probably sum it up perfectly.

We hear in the media with increasing frequency about cyber-bullying, but how many adults still dismiss it as harmless?

The old adage of ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones...’ is horribly out of date in this context. Some cases of cyber-bullying have tragically resulted in the victim’s suicide.

Conversations conducted online through social media are an omnipresent part of many young people’s lives

And unlike in previous decades where the bullying would only take place in the playground and stop when the victim got home, now, thanks to smartphones and laptops, there is no escape from it.

To say: ‘Just switch it off, then,’ is to miss the point. You may as well ask a youngster to amputate a limb, and risk ostracising them further.

The internet may well be one of mankind’s greatest inventions.

But it also gives mean-spirited, and in some instances evil-minded, people the chance to exploit others.

As Councillor Rob Wood recognises: ‘Most children are more adept at using the internet, tablets and apps than us adults.’

But this skill brings with it an increased risk. We should be doing all we can to protect our children from these online trolls who prey on them, whether it be a classmate or someone at a computer on the far side of the globe.

To that end, we should also educate ourselves and not dismiss the dangers of online bullying – it can be equally as real, and potentially far more insidious, than any face-to-face classroom incident.

The internet is still largely unpoliced, with plenty of scope for those looking to take advatage.

By teaching these children about the dangers in Year 4, hopefully they will be able to avoid some of the traps that can catch the unwary.

Portsmouth City Council’s campaign, along with Portsmouth Safeguarding Children Board (PSCB), the Youth Parliament, and the University of Portsmouth, is to be applauded.