Today more than 4,000 schoolchildren will be visited as part of Safer Internet Day, as research reveals that over a quarter of them still click on malicious links online.

Schools will be visited by volunteers from the (ISC)2 Safe and Secure Online programme to talk about cyber bullying, abusive gamers, identity and malicious threats. The volunteers will also survey children and encourage discussion about online risks and behavioural concerns.

Meanwhile, research from Trend Micro reveals that over a quarter (25.6 per cent) of seven- to 16-year-olds have downloaded a virus or accidentally clicked on a link taking them to an adult website. Just over 47 per cent of 14-year-olds and 36 per cent of 15-year-olds said they had downloaded malware.

Rik Ferguson, director of security research and communication EMEA at Trend Micro, said: “Keeping children safe online is paramount; from cyber bullying to viruses and the more publicised risks, it's all about striking the right balance between allowing them to maintain a sense of independence and feeling able to ask for advice.”

Further research from Westcoastcloud found that while half of parents in Scotland have installed software to protect their children from accessing unsuitable content when they use desktop PCs and laptops in the home, only a quarter have installed similar protection for the mobile phones, games consoles and TV services their kids also use in the house.

The survey, carried out by OnePoll, questioned 500 parents with children aged between five and 16. Bill Strain, director of Westcoastcloud, said: “While it's encouraging that 50 per cent of parents in Scotland are being more vigilant about the risks their children face when going online on a computer or laptop, many of them are still failing to recognise that in our increasingly mobile world, the same level of protection needs to be provided when their children are accessing the internet via their mobile phones, the television and while they're gaming.

“There are many things parents can do to keep their children safe on the internet. The first and most important thing you can do is talk to your children to make them aware that the internet can expose them to all sorts of wonderful things but also all sorts of unsuitable things, and get them to understand the risks. Secondly, you can agree certain rules with them, and third, you can install web security software which will filter and block inappropriate content or websites.”

In conjunction with Safer Internet Day, AdaptiveMobile has launched its Parental Controls app that protects users from potentially harmful content, calls and messages without needing complex configuration or installation.

According to the company, the app enables operators to offer call, SMS and MMS blocking, as well as a range of web-filtering services; it can be customised to allow access to certain websites at specified times.

Ciaran Bradley, V-P of handset security at AdaptiveMobile, said: “It is imperative that protecting children from harmful content online is as easy as possible and can be done on the move, from a phone, rather than having to be near a fixed PC. Safer Internet Day helps to promote best practice online and on mobile devices, and we are pleased to support this initiative.”