Manufacturers have launched a virtual ID card aimed at protecting children on the web.

Its makers hope the NetIDme system, which will cost £9.99-a-year, will reduce opportunities for paedophiles to hide their age when online.

Through the system, a child’s age is verified by a professional such as a doctor, teacher or lawyer, or when an application form is stamped by the child’s school.

Children will then be able to ask other chat-room users for their identification before communicating with them.

Confidential checks will also be made in conjunction with the police to snare paedophiles who try to cheat the system.

NetIDme founder, Alex Hewitt, hopes to have 100,000 users of the system by the end of this year.

He said he developed the system after he found that his daughter had 150 people on her buddy list but knew the identities of fewer than 50.

Because the internet is an anonymous place, predators can get away with it. This system removes the anonymity which is the main problem of the internet and provides traceability.

The system is not 100 per cent – what we’re doing is raising the bar. It’s easy for these guys on the internet to get access to children but we are raising the bar to deter them.”

Internet child safety expert, John Carr, told “It is a sad fact of life that people tend to behave quite badly and do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do if they believe no-one is looking or that anyone can find out who they are. The NetIDme system offers an answer.

Lots of us who have been concerned with child protection have been calling for more and better ways of verifying who is talking to who on the internet. So I’m very pleased this product has arrived.”