Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda said: “Growing numbers of children are on social networking sites but many are not taking all necessary steps to protect themselves online. These children are placing themselves in harm's way, vulnerable to stalkers and groomers. All social networking companies should therefore immediately make minors' profiles accessible by default only to their approved list of contacts and out of search engines' reach. And those companies that have not yet signed up to the EU's Safer Networking Principles should do so without delay so as to ensure our children's safety."
The survey of 25,000 young people in 25 European countries, published today by the EUKidsOnline network, shows that a quarter of children on social networking sites say they have their profile open to public. One fifth of children whose profile is public say this profile displays their address and/or phone number. In 15 out of 25 countries, 9-12 year olds are more likely than 13-16 year olds to have public profiles.
Only 56 per cent of 11-12 year olds say they know how to change privacy settings on their social network profile. Older youngsters have better skills with 78 per cent of 15-16 year olds saying they know how to change their privacy settings.
The figures highlight the importance of the European Commission's upcoming review of the implementation of the Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU. This agreement was brokered by the Commission in 2009 (IP/09/232) when major social networking companies agreed to implement measures to ensure the online safety of their under 18s users. The Commission will shortly publish the first batch of the results of the assessment of the implementation of the Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU by the following signatories: Arto, Bebo, Facebook, Giovani, Hyves, IRC Galleria, MySpace, Nasza-Klasa, Netlog, One.lt, Rate, SchuelerVZ, Tuenti and Zap (see IP/09/232, IP/10/144).
The report published today also shows 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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