Norton just ran an online parent survey in Canada and among the findings was the nugget that 43% of parents said they were OK with tweens (ages 8-12) having a social networking account, so long as they're supervised by parents. But only about half of those parents are using parental control software or tools, the rest get by with periodic checks of the computer.
Last week Consumer Reports released a study that found 7.5 million underage users on one social networking site alone. Of those 7.5 million kids under the age of 13, 5 million were under the age of 11. The EU Kids Online report (covering 25 countries in Europe) found that 38% of 9-12 year old children had an account on a social network. And younger children are LESS likely to use privacy settings, leaving their profiles public. Additionally, social networks will delete the account of an underage child, if it’s discovered. That would mean all the hard work of creating friend lists and posting photos would be wasted and need to be recreated when the child is older.
Last week I attended the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI)’s European conference in London. The primary theme was “Every European a Digital Citizen.” There were so many interesting discussions and issues raised, such as dealing with the known masses of underage kids in social networks, the challenges raised by growth of mobile web access, and concerns of privacy. I’ve provided a link below to an excellent summary by Tia Fisher. The keynote was provided by the always challenging and effervescent Dr. Tanya Byron. During her brief remarks and later, during a panel discussion, Dr. Byron made it clear that she’s frustrated by school policies blocking the use of technology and allowance for kids’ mobile devices in the school environment. As Ms. Fisher summarized in a microblogging post, “Give. kids. technology. In. Schools.”
(L-R: Dr. Tanya Byron, me, Stephen Balkam of FOSI)