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Ofcom research on youth and social networking

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The Office of Communications in the U.K. has just released a research report on young peoples’ use of social networking sites. Among their findings:

“Despite being one of the main reasons cited by some respondents for not using social networking sites, privacy and safety are not a top of mind concern for those who use social networking sites. The research found that:

  • 41 per cent of children and 44 per cent of adults leave their privacy settings as default ‘open’ which means that their profiles are visible to anyone;
  • 34 per cent of 16-24 year olds are willing to give out sensitive personal information such as their phone number or email address (Get Safe Online Research); and
  • 17 per cent of adult users said that they talked to people on social networking sites that they didn’t know and 35 per cent spoke to people who were ‘friends of friends’.

The research also found that some 27 per cent of 8-11 year olds who are aware of social networking sites and have internet access have an online profile. While s ome of these are on sites intended for younger children, the presence of underage users on social networking sites intended for those aged 13 or over was confirmed by the research. In addition, while 65 per cent of parents claim to set rules on their child’s use of social networking sites, only 53 per cent of children said that their parents set such rules.”

Following up on the release of Ofcom’s report, the Times Online features great related coverage including an expected announcement today by the U.K. government recommending a “privacy lock” for kids using social networking sites, and a wide-ranging Q&A with Facebook’s chief privacy officer.

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