A new survey conducted by online privacy company, TRUSTe, looks at how teens and their parents use social networks, as well as their thoughts and practices when it comes to social networking privacy. An article from San Francisco’s local ABC News, KGO-TV, used the survey to focus on the idea that “kids are alright with Internet safety”.
The problem I have with the assumption that kids are “alright with Internet safety” is that the statistics show a lack of awareness and education among our youth when it comes to the issues surrounding online privacy. I say that because they’re still engaging in risky online behavior—something that both the TRUSTe survey and the McAfee survey (released earlier this year) have shown. Sure, the kids may be alright with the privacy settings on Facebook, and they may know how to use them to the best of their abilities, but that doesn’t hide the fact that 43% of 16-17 year olds have chatted or shared personal information with a complete stranger online.
Another concerning statistic that came out of the TRUSTe survey is the fact that most parents aren’t concerned about their privacy on Facebook, nor their child’s. In fact, most parents felt confident in their child’s ability to be responsible with posting personal information on Facebook. Interesting considering the privacy issues that Facebook has been facing lately.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think that Facebook is a wonderful tool for both parents and their children (if they’re old enough) to use. But for the life of me, I can’t understand why 40% of adults are so laid-back about their privacy on Facebook, let alone 84% feeling totally confident that their child will be responsible when it comes to posting personal information on any social network. What about sites like Teenspot.com? They’re just one example, but a good one as they ask for information like sexual orientation. They even allow teens to use this as a filter to search for members on their site.
Parents, though a lot of the results from the TRUSTe survey convey good news (and I encourage you to check it out), a few of the statistics are still very concerning. It’s easy to look at the survey as a whole and feel good about the results especially when you limit your idea of a social network to only Facebook. But the fact of the matter is there are a ton of social networks out there where teens are engaging in risky behaviors, and online predators know this. Because of that, you need to protect your child to the best of your abilities. You can do this a couple of ways: by keeping an open window for conversation to take place and by letting them know that YOU are fully aware of the dangers that await them online if and when they decide to engage in risky behavior.