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Young people struggle to maintain their privacy online

by Jutta Croll, Stiftung Digitale Chancen
Published on: 19.03.07
Source: Press Release from European Schoolnet

57% of young people make their online social network profiles public and disclose a great deal of personal information, according to a recent survey of 21,872 people across Europe organised by European Schoolnet, coordinator of European Insafe network. Almost a third of youngsters responding indicated that they didn’t know what to do about making information public or private. However, in other areas, awareness of safe behaviour is increasing.

Social networks such as MySpace and Bebo are some of most popular websites among young people. The Insafe survey suggests that more needs to be done to raise awareness of privacy issues. At the same time, providers of social platforms need to do more to enable young people to make parts of or whole profiles private.

However, in some contexts, many young people are aware of what to do: for instance, when using MSN, 58% of young people surveyed reported that they would not accept a request for contact from a person they didn’t know.

Despite this, the under 10 age group seems to have relatively little awareness of the dangers of going to meet someone they have been chatting with online. More than a third indicated hypothetically they would go to meet online contacts without telling parents.

However, awareness increases greatly for 10 to 13 year olds, and then steadily declines; 22% of 17 year olds would forget to tell their parents about such a meeting and 24% of 18 year olds would go alone.

A similar pattern of increased risk-taking from age 14 to 17 can be repeatedly seen in a detailed analysis of the survey results, underlining the need to tailor awareness-raising campaigns to target these age groups.

The Insafe survey was sponsored by UPC, with support from the European Commission. Further survey results will be available on the Insafe website in the coming weeks.

About European Schoolnet

European Schoolnet is a unique not-for-profit consortium of 28 ministries of education in Europe created in 1997. It provides major European education portals for teaching, learning and collaboration and leads the way in bringing about change in schooling through the use of new technology.

About Insafe

European Schoolnet coordinates the European Safer Internet network, Insafe, which aims to empower citizens to use the Internet, as well as other information and communication technologies, safely, ethically and effectively. The network is funded by the European Commission’s Directorate General for the Information Society and Media. It comprises 26 national nodes which work together in close partnership in 24 countries across Europe and with three associated nodes, in Argentina, Australia and the USA.

For a German translation of this text please click here.

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