Children using social networks at a younger age, unaware of basic privacy risks

A survey of social networking, age and privacy commissioned by the European Commission and published by the EU Kids Online network has showed that 77% of 13 to 16 year olds and 38% of 9 to 12 year olds in the EU have a profile on a social networking site like Facebook.

Of the 25,000 young people in 25 European countries questioned, a quarter of those present on social networking sites say their profile is “public”, meaning that everyone can see it, while one fifth of those with public profiles also display the address and/or phone number of the child.

Only 56% of 11-12 year olds say they know how to change the privacy settings on their social network profile, while this percentage is higher among 15-16 year olds, reaching 78%.

The survey raises the question of how effective age restrictions on social network sites are and highlights the importance of the European Commission’s upcoming review of the implementation of the Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU, the self-regulatory agreement signed by major social networking companies in 2009 in which they commit to implement a series of measures on their services in order to ensure the safety of minors.

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