WASHINGTON, June 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Cox Communications and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) today held their 5th Annual National Teen Summit on Internet Safety and released findings from a new survey on how teens behave online and what they think of the potential reputational consequences stemming from information and photos they share.
"America's Most Wanted" host and child advocate John Walsh moderated the Summit, joined by internationally recognized social media expert, James Andrews, and 11 young people – including two alumni Summit participants. For the first time the Summit was open to the public via a live video stream. Click here to access video and photos from the event. After the Summit, the teens took their Internet safety message to Capital Hill, hand delivering the Cox survey results to their Senators and Representatives.
The survey results from teens 13 to 17 years of age include a number of concerns:
Connected and accessible:
- 84 percent have a cell phone (up from 63 percent in 2006).
- 84 percent of teens have a social network profile (up from 51 percent in 2006).
- 92 percent are social media friends with people they don't know well, if at all.
- 46 percent offer open access to their online profile information.
Concerned, but still taking risks:
- 82 percent of teens understand that online posts can affect their reputation.
- 73 percent said they'd be upset if their reputations were damaged by their online postings; losing the respect of parents was the top concern.
- Still, 62 percent of teens never check with a parent before they post a photo online, and 67 percent never check before posting a status update.
- Only 32 percent of teens thought the information they present online would negatively impact their future.
- Only about half, 55 percent, understood that their digital reputations could affect their ability to get into the college of their choice.
- 88 percent worry about posting their contact information online, but 71 percent have posted the name of their city (up from 59 percent in 2007), and 29 percent have posted their cell phone number (up from 8 percent in 2007).
"Since the first survey was done in 2006, we have witnessed a huge increase in the numbers of teens engaged in social networks online," said Ernie Allen, president and CEO of NCMEC. "Too many teens still do not really understand the risks and too many teens are posting too much personal information."
Walsh agreed, stating, "It's the age-old problem of kids thinking they are invulnerable," said Walsh. "It's not that they don't understand there can be consequences, it's that they believe it cannot happen to them. This is why it's so important for parents and guardians to think twice before they share information online."
Cox and NCMEC offer the following advice for parents:
- Monitor kid's online activity -- how long they are online, what sites they visit, what they are posting to their social network pages and who their social network friends are.
- Make sure teens are not posting too much personal information, particularly information that makes them easy to find in the community. Don't include age, location, school or favorite hangouts.
- Make sure that photos teens post are not provocative.
- Make sure that teens are not posting information that makes them vulnerable to identify theft or ruins their credit.
- For more information on how to protect teens online, parents should visit www.cox.com/takecharge or www.missingkids.com.
"It all comes down to education for both the parents and the teenagers," said Walsh. "It is now absolutely imperative for parents to educate themselves on the perils of Internet use by their teens and to continue to engage in dialogue with them about what they are doing online."
Peter Picard, vice president of TRU, the research firm that conducted the 2010 survey, said the survey responses from the teens are similar to their attitudes in surveys about other risky behaviors such as drinking, drug use, sex or driving – they know the dangers, but are not concerned about the personal implications for themselves. "Full of the confidence of youth and still under the protective umbrella of parents, teens simply feel immune to danger and consequence."
The National Teen Summit on Internet Safety is an extension of Cox Communications' Take Charge! initiative, which helps parents, guardians and kids make smarter media decisions. Through the program, Cox provides scores of resources to help parents and guardians manage what their children see, and don't see, on TV and the Internet, including instructions on setting parental controls, a guide to the lingo teens use online and tips for more constructive conversations between parents and kids. Thanks in part to Cox's partnership with NetSmartz, an educational program from NCMEC, Cox has donated more than $30 million worth of advertising time to NetSmartz and NCMEC to encourage safer online behavior among children.
About the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Since it was established by Congress in 1984, the organization has operated the toll-free 24-hour national missing children's hotline which has handled more than 2,377,000 calls. It has assisted law enforcement in the recovery of more than 138,500 children. The organization's CyberTipline has handled more than 699,500 reports of child sexual exploitation and its Child Victim Identification Program has reviewed and analyzed more than 23,796,800 child pornography images and videos. The organization works in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice's office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. To learn more about NCMEC, call its toll-free, 24-hour hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST or visit its web site at www.missingkids.com
About Cox Communications
Cox Communications is a broadband communications and entertainment company, providing advanced digital video, Internet, telephone and wireless services over its own nationwide IP network. The third-largest U.S. cable TV company, Cox serves more than 6 million residences and businesses. Cox Business is a facilities-based provider of voice, video and data solutions for commercial customers, and Cox Media is a full-service provider of national and local cable spot and new media advertising.
Cox is known for its pioneering efforts in cable telephone and commercial services, industry-leading customer care and its outstanding workplaces. For seven years, Cox has been recognized as the top operator for women by Women in Cable Telecommunications; for five years, Cox has ranked among DiversityInc's Top 50 Companies for Diversity, and the company holds a perfect score in the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index. More information about Cox Communications, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises, is available at www.cox.com and www.coxmedia.com.