A national survey of young social network users in Britain has revealed that an alarming percentage openly provide their personal information on the internet.
The ‘i-in-Online’ Children and Online Privacy Survey found that 60% of those polled had not read the privacy policies of the websites they used.
The results revealed that typical favourite sites used by both primary and secondary pupils are social networking platforms including Facebook and MSN, which are deemed to be the most vulnerable to users if their personal details are not protected. Of the 3,000 or so primary aged children surveyed, 40% said they were on Facebook.
The survey was carried out on behalf of the ‘i-in-online’ charity, established by Speechly Bircham LLP. Professor of Social Responsibility in Information Technology, Andy Phippen, of Plymouth University, has written a report on the findings.
Professor Phippen said: “The i-in-online aims to educate primary school children aged 9-11 and secondary school children aged 14-19, their parents and teachers about using and providing their personal information online and also highlights the potential pitfalls of sharing too much personal information on the internet.
“In order to rectify this we need to provide a basic level of teaching to these vulnerable groups.”
The survey, which was rolled out in 82 primary and secondary schools in 16 different locations across the UK, and coincided with Data Protection Day on 28 January 2011, gave those taking part the chance to come up with ideas to help people become more responsible for protecting their own data.
The participants suggested using icons, signals, signs and cartoon characters to make privacy policies more engaging to a younger audience.
The team, which included UK Data Protection Lawyer, Robert Bond, and Information Commissioner, Chris Graham, are now calling for an internet education campaign and will be seeking the help of regulators to help them tackle the issue.
Professor Phippen added: “We need to target the regulators to make privacy policies on the internet much clearer and support schools in delivering consistent education around these issues.”