Social networking sites such as Facebook can provide many benefits to children and adults alike. However, we also hear horror stories about how the Internet can be harmful and dangerous to kids. Here are some important statistics worth noting about Internet activity:
Sharing Private Information:
- 69% of teens have included their physical location on social networking sites.
- 51% of teens have given personal information to someone online whom they don’t know in the offline world (see chart).
- 34% of teen girls have shared photos or given physical descriptions of themselves, while 15% of boys the same age have done this.
The idea that kids post online exactly where they are can be scary enough. But we expect the percentage of kids who do this to rise with the Facebook Places feature, which allows users to “check in” and share where they are, tag friends they’re with, and see if any other friends are in the same place. It only takes one sketchy Facebook “friend” to learn the whereabouts of these kids and have easy access to them.
Chatting with Strangers:
- 28% of teens chat with people they only “know” online. Girls are more likely to do so than boys (32% vs. 24%). This is another easy way for someone to figure out a kid’s location at a given time, based on that kid directly stating where they are, or unintentionally providing hints.
- 75% of teens have a cell phone.
- 19% of teens have sent sexually suggestive pictures of themselves over email or cell, while 31% of teens have received suggestive pictures of someone else.
Unfortunately, girls are even more likely to engage in dangerous online behaviors, including sharing inappropriate photos and chatting with strangers (and giving physical descriptions of themselves). Whether sending a picture to a boyfriend or talking suggestively online, these are all risky activities that can lead to worse consequences.
- 62% of teens know how to hide what they do online from their parents.
- 42% of teens don’t tell their parents what they do online.
- 36% of teens would change their online activity if their parents were watching.
- 11% of teens have unlocked or disabled parental controls.
With over a third of kids hiding from their parents in one way or another, it’s important that parents find other ways to figure out what’s going on. It’s also important to educate kids about the risks of ruining their reputation online via the dangers of oversharing. One way to help kids be safer online is to encourage them to adjust their privacy settings on Facebook, specifically for the Facebook Places feature. Additionally, Parents can be more aware of what’s going on with their kids using SocialShield’s ActivitiesEngine™ that archives past Facebook activity for emergency review if parents ever need to go back and check on something that happened.
Do any of these statistics surprise you? What do you think are the most preventable Internet dangers?