A new study has revealed that six out of 10 youngsters who get familiar with strangers on the Internet lie about their age and 43 per cent have online 'friends' they've never met in real life.
The survey from the children's charity Kidscape interviewed more than 2,300 young Britons aged between 11 and 18 about their Internet use.
The survey, that marked Safer Internet Day, showed that currently one in two young people lied about their personal details on the Internet. Of those, the one in eight young people who talk to strangers online are the most likely to lie, with 60 per cent lying about their age and 40 per cent about their personal relationships.
In a separate survey for online security firm Kaspersky Labs, YouGov found that as many as 43 per cent of people with Internet access have online 'friends' they have never met in real life.
Over half (54 per cent) of those aged between 18 and 24 have online friends they haven't met in real life, identifying the possibility that young people today are sharing personal information from strangers.
Kidscape officials say their survey indicates that many young people adopt a different identity online.
"We were alarmed by the number of risks being taken by teenagers online. We know that safe online behaviour is taught in schools and by other organisations like us, but teenagers seem to be unable to relate the risks to themselves," the Telegraph quoted Peter Bradley, Kidscape's deputy director, as saying.
More than 45 per cent of young people interviewed said that they are sometimes happier online compared to their real lives. Forty-seven per cent of teenagers also said that they behave differently online.
Bradley said, "These findings suggest that children see cyberspace as detachable from the real world and a place where they explore parts of their behaviour and personality that they possibly would not show in real life.
"We can't allow cyber-worlds to be happier places than our real communities, otherwise, we are creating a generation of young people not functioning adequately in our society."