TEHRAN - Iran's youth has now been warned: the Internet can jeopardise your bodily well-being, make you lose your friends and turn you into an anti-social, faithless and mentally damaged individual.
"One of the best mediums of communication in today's world is via the Internet. It is like taking a boat that acquaints us with the beautiful shores of the world," noted the alert published Monday by the Police Directorate of Public Education.
"But in the waters are dangerous sharks. These dangerous sharks are indecent pictures, and becoming acquainted with them has no other repercussion but to inflict depression, weakness in faith, and tens of other forms of psychological and social damage."
The statement pointed to "psychological and spiritual tensions in families that have unwisely used computers and the Internet."
In order to avoid such hazards, the police gave three recommendations to the Islamic republic's young surfers: don't get addicted to being online; don't click onto immoral sites; and don't replace your real friends and family with electronic buddies.
Reliable figures on the number of Internet users in Iran are hard to pin down, with estimates ranging from 2.5 million to four million, double the level of four years ago.
Experts say the number is likely to more than double again in the next five years in a country where two-thirds of the 66 million people are below 30 years of age and many are already technologically savvy.