Almost half of teens offer open access to their online profile information and most don't ask parents before posting photos to social media, says a new survey on teen online behavior.
"Too many teens still do not really understand the risks and too many teens are posting too much personal information," says Ernie Allen, president and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in a statement.
The survey, a partnership between the center and cable giant Cox Communications, was released as part of the fifth Annual National Teen Summit on Internet Safety held Monday in Washington, D.C.
Among its findings from teens age 13 to 17 was that 84% have a social network profile and 92% are social media friends with people they don't know well, if at all. The survey's results are based on 1,032 online interviews and showed that more teens are technologically connected than ever before with 84% saying they have cell phones, up from 63% in 2006.
While 82% of teens say they understand online posts can affect their reputations, only 32% think the posts will negatively impact their future. Teens fear losing the respect of their families because of their online posts more than any other consequence -- even personal safety.
"America's Most Wanted" TV show host and child safety advocate John Walsh said parents and teens should learn about the hazards of too much information on the web and parents actively monitor what goes online. Walsh moderated the summit Monday. "It's not that they don't understand there can be consequences, it's that they believe it cannot happen to them," he says in a released statement. "This is why it's so important for parents and guardians to think twice before they share information online."
To help arm parents and children again online dangers, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission created a booklet, "Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online" to help families deal with issues like social networking, cyber-bullying and cell phone safety. It's also part of the site onguardonline.gov. The FTC advises parents to start teaching their children early about internet perils and to continue to guide them as they learn.
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