EU study: Many children use social networks but do not protect their privacy

The EU Commission released the results of a survey on the use of social networks by children. 25,000 young people were interviewed in 25 European countries. The key results of the study are:

  • 38 percent of 9-12 year olds say they have a profile on social networking sites, ranging from 70 percent in the Netherlands to 25 percent in France.
  • 77 percent of the 13-16 year olds say that they are on a social network.
  • 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 percent 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 percent of 15-16 year olds saying they know how to change their privacy settings.

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.”

The study is part of a review of consumer protection in social networks and of the Safer Networking Principles for the EU - a self-regulatory agreement signed by social networking companies.


Further information:

Source: EU Commission