PandaLabs, Panda Security’s anti-malware laboratory is marking Universal Children’s Day on November 20 with advice to children on how to use the Internet responsibly and ensure they enjoy the Web as safely as possible. This initiative from Panda Security aims to promote responsible and secure use of the Internet among young people, and is part of the company’s “Kids on the Web” campaign

With this in mind, PandaLabs offers this simple, practical guide to children:

1. Don’t click suspicious links. When using instant messaging programs (such as MSN Messenger or any other chat application) or you receive an email, never click directly on any links. If the message or email comes directly from someone you know, then type the address in the browser. If you don’t know the person that it has come from, the best thing is to ignore it.

2. It is dangerous to download or run files from unknown sources. No doubt you have often received instant messages inviting you to download a photo, a song or a video. Sometimes, this file could have been sent not by that person, but by a malicious program that has infected their computer and which is trying to spread to other users. Just in case, the best thing to do is ask your friend if they have really sent something. If they haven’t, let them know that they are infected so they can delete the file and advise their other contacts.

3. Don’t speak to strangers. In chat rooms, social networks or across instant messaging, you can never be completely sure who you’re speaking to, as you can’t see them. Especially in online communities, where people have never met in real life. Never make friends with strangers, and under no circumstances should you ever arrange to meet them in real life.

4. Don’t send confidential information across the Internet. Never send private information (your address or phone number, etc.) via email or instant messaging, and never publish this kind of information in a blog or on a forum. You should also take care when you create profiles for social media such as Facebook or Myspace. You should never include information such as your age or your address. It is also advisable not to use your real name, use a pseudonym or nick instead.

5. If you have the slightest doubt, be careful. If a program you don’t remember installing begins to display false infections or pop-ups inviting you to buy some type of product, be wary. You probably have some type of malware installed on your computer.

6. Don’t browse the Web alone. If you’re going to search on the Internet, it’s much better to get an adult to guide and advise you on where to look. It is far more secure to visit trustworthy and official sites rather than unknown Web pages.

7. Talk to your parents or tutors. If you have any questions about any of this, if you see something suspicious or you receive offensive or dangerous emails, speak to an adult. They will be able to advise you.

“New technologies are increasingly available in all of our homes; young children now have access to the Internet and the ‘digital gap’ between parents and children is exposing many young people to the dangers of the Internet”, explains Luis Corrons, Technical Director of PandaLabs. “We need to make sure our children can genuinely enjoy the Web in a healthy way. We always advise that the best way to achieve this is for parents and children to have a relationship based on trust, so it is not necessary to be constantly monitoring kids while they’re on social networks and the like”.