ATLANTA — For the fifth consecutive year, Cox Communications, in partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and America’s Most Wanted host and children’s advocate John Walsh, will present the results of a new survey on the behavior of young people online. This year, the survey also looks at teen behavior using wireless devices.
Under the auspices of Cox’s Take Charge! program, the partners are helping parents understand the potential dangers of the Internet and learn ways they can help keep their kids safer online. The initiative includes both the survey about teen behavior and a frank discussion with a teen focus group at the Cox Communications’ Annual National Summit on Internet Safety.
Key results from the survey conducted by Harris Interactive among a representative sampling of U.S. teens between the ages of 13 and 18 years include:
- Technology enabled: Ninety-one percent of teens have an email address and 60 percent have an instant messenger screen name. Seventy-three percent of teens have a cell phone and 59 percent have a digital camera.
- Acceptance of Social Networking: Seventy-two percent of teens surveyed have online profiles on social networking sites where many have posted photos of themselves and their friends, along with personal information.
- Conflicted over Safety: Most teens surveyed are aware and concerned about the risks of putting personal information out in the open. Fifty-nine percent say having personal information or photos on a public site is unsafe, and 26 percent say they know someone who has had something bad happen to them because of this. Still, 62 percent of teens post photos of themselves on blogs or social networking sites and greater than 40 percent name their school or the city in which they live.
- Prevalent Cyberbullying: More than one-third of teens surveyed have been cyberbullied, perpetrated cyberbullying or know of friends who have experienced or perpetrated it, and 68 percent think it is a serious problem. About 4 in 5 teens (81 percent) think that bullying online is easier to get away with or to hide from their parents than bullying in person.
- Engaging in Sexting: Nineteen percent of teens surveyed have engaged in sexting — sending, receiving or forwarding sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude photos through text message or email. Sixty percent of teens who sent sexts say they send photos to their boyfriend/girlfriend, but 11 percent say they have sent sexts to someone they don’t even know. Eighty-one percent of teen sexters are under 18.
- Online wirelessly: Nineteen percent of teens surveyed go online via their cell phone and 19 percent say their parents are unaware. The vast majority of teens (80 percent) whose parent know they go online via their cell phone say they are not given any limits or controls — far fewer than are given boundaries on their desktop PC or laptop.
“Teens are not only online, they are active in every nuance of cyberspace. Many have no controls over what they do online and of those who do, nearly 30 percent figure ways around the boundaries set by their parents,” said John Walsh. “Those parents who have been vigilant over their kids’ use of the Internet via their computers, haven’t extended their watch to their kids’ use of the wireless devices, which are increasingly offering predators all the access they need to our precious and vulnerable young ones. Teens are prone to choosing risky behaviors even though they know better, so parents must continue to regularly talk with their children and monitor their activities.”
At the June 24 summit, Walsh will lead teen participants from Cox Communications’ markets across the country in a discussion of cyber-safety and ways parents, guardians and teen mentors can help children stay safer online.
Results of the survey and information from teen discussion at the summit will be presented immediately following during the live virtual media conference (details to be announced via media alert immediately prior); Walsh and select teens will be available to answer questions. Teens participating in the Summit will also deliver the news directly to Capitol Hill in meetings with members of Congress on June 25.