Children ignoring online safety rules

Reuters 03 April 2008

Millions of children who use social networking sites are exposing themselves to unnecessary risk by leaving personal details open for all to see, communications watchdog Ofcom said. It published research showing that 40 per cent of children leave their privacy settings on “open”, despite warnings about the danger of putting personal details such as phone numbers and email addresses online. The research found that many young children have by-passed age restrictions to publish their profile on sites like Bebo, MySpace and Facebook.

It said a half of all children, and a quarter of those aged 8-11, are registered with a social networking site. Ofcom director of market research James Thickett said parents should check the online profile their children are using… He said children not protecting their private information are exposing themselves to the risk of bullying or even to unwelcome approaches from strangers. But he said that social networks do offer real benefits, provided the right precautions are taken.