A WATCHDOG must be appointed to protect young people from online dangers, Scotland’s children’s commissioner has warned, as he claimed the internet is not “designed with children in mind”.

Bruce Adamson is calling for digital citizenship lessons, an ombudsman to mediate between under-18s and social media companies and simplified terms and conditions for digital services for young people.

His comments come as a survey for the Royal Bank of Scotland found that young people are often reckless with their personal information online, even sharing banking details, and passwords.

The Royal Bank of Scotland Mobile Micro-leisure Report found that 72 per cent of young people said mobile banking made them feel more in control of their finances. But they showed a “profound” lack of knowledge of how to stay secure, with nearly one in six 18-24 year olds sharing their log in details for online accounts with a friend.

Many were as prepared to share their banking password as they were to share their catch-up TV log-in details, showing a “worrying lack of understanding of the measures that would lower the likelihood of them becoming the victim of scams or mobile fraud”.

Mr Adamson, whose remit is for under-18s, said help in navigating online dangers should start early. “ At the moment, children are not being equipped with adequate skills to negotiate their lives online,” he said. “Digital media intensify both risks and opportunities for children.

“The sooner child rights issues are recognised and addressed as part of the wider rush to embrace digital and business innovations the more secure a foundation can be laid for a present and future.”.

Adults aim to prepare children with the skills to interact with the outside world, but are less able to do so for the online world, he said.

He is backing calls fro change from the English children’s commissioner, he added. “She is calling for a compulsory digital citizenship programme, simplified terms and conditions for digital services offered to children; and a new children’s digital ombudsman to mediate between under-18s and social media companies.”

Such measures would help open up the internet while preventing children and young adults from being vulnerable to having their personal information captured and monetised by companies, he said.

Professor of Cyber Security at Abertay University Karen Renaud said: “When there is tension between convenience and security, convenience always wins. It is unsurprising that people do not want to type in a passcode multiple times a day.

She added: “It is also unsurprising that young people share their personal banking details. Feeling connected to other people is a very deep need that we all seek to satisfy. The security professional considers this foolhardy, but human nature is a far more powerful force than fear-based warnings.”

Digital marketing expert Mike McGrail said: “Young people may be rolling their eyes at older people not understanding a ‘Snapchat Streak’, but they’d do well to take on-board the more cautious approach ‘older’ types often adopt.”

Julie McArdle, RBS customer security manager, said the report had “thrown up some startling insights”.

An NSPCC Scotland spokesperson added: “We encourage parents to have regular conversations with their children about their online lives and how to keep themselves safe.

“Social networks must also be forced to sign up to a universal set of rules including automatic Safe Accounts for under 18s with high privacy settings as default and location settings locked off.”