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Trends in children's use of social networks
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Published on 18-04-11

A pan-European study published today shows that teenagers and children use social networks at a younger age, but many remain unaware of basic privacy risks or how to avoid them. According to the findings, 77% of 13-16 year olds and 38% of 9-12 year olds in the EU have a profile on a social networking site. The UK leads in both age groups with 88% of 13-16 year olds and 43% of 9-12 year olds saying they have a social network profile.

Yet a quarter of children across Europe who use social networking sites like Facebook, Hyves, Tuenti, Nasza-Klasa SchuelerVZ, Hi5, Iwiw or Myvip say their profile is set to "public" meaning that everyone can see it, and many of these display their address and/or phone number. The UK does a bit better than the EU average. Only 9% of the 9-12 year olds and only 11% of the 13-16 year olds have their profiles set to "public".

    Trends in children's use of social networks

    Only 56% of 11-12 year olds say they know how to change privacy settings on their social network profile. Whilst older youngsters have better skills with 78% of 15-16 year olds saying they know how to change their privacy settings.

    The European Commission is assessing the implementation of the Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU. This agreement was brokered by the Commission in 2009 when major social networking companies agreed to implement measures to ensure the online safety of their under 18s users. The first batch of results will be published shortly and they relate to signatories like Facebook, Bebo and MySpace. However, today's report suggests that some of the social networking sites that are popular among youngsters in Europe are not signatories to the Safer Social Networking Principles.

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