Social Networking Makes Children Share Their Secrets
Worldwide, more and more children find their way around the Internet. This development is mirrored by concerns about children’s online privacy. This study in Young Consumers gives more insight in how children view their own online vulnerability, privacy, and safety. It appears that children who use the internet for social networking share more personal information than children who are just looking for information.
- The extent to which children share personal information on the internet, depends on children’s motivations to use the internet:
- Children who primarily use the internet for information seeking share relatively little personal information.
- Children who primarily use the internet for social networking share more personal information.
- Therefore, parents should try to find out what kind of internet user their child is.
- When the child often uses social media, parents might pay special attention to their child’s online behavior.
What are tweens’ motivations to use the internet, and to what extent do these motivations affect the feeling of privacy and their willingness to share personal information online?
85 children aged 10 to 12 years, (53% boys), in a suburb of a large metropolitan area
The children filled in an online questionnaire, that took about 30 minutes. The questionnaire contained questions about children’s online activities and their willingness to share personal information (i.e. ‘I use the internet because it…’ and ‘Which of the following details have you given out via the internet?’).
Facts and findings
- 86% of the children had an internet connection at their home.
- 77% of the children were using the internet for at least two hours a day.
- 63% of the children had no parental supervision while being online. But, most parents:
- gave time-restrictions for using the internet (62%)
- determined which sites their children were allowed to visit or not (52%)
- indicated which information their children could (not) share online (61%)
- Children who mostly used the internet for information seeking, were more concerned about their online privacy than children who used the internet mainly for socializing with friends.
- Children that were more concerned about their online privacy did share less personal information than children who were less concerned.
- When promised a small incentive, children’s willingness to disclose their personal information increased.