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Teen social networkers’ safety practices

Good news about teen safety practices on the social Web this week – surprisingly good to adults persuaded by the very negative hype about social networking in the news media this past year. A just-released study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that “the majority of teens actively manage their online profiles to keep the information they believe is most sensitive away from the unwanted gaze of strangers” and other adults, including parents, of course. “Less than 10% of teens say they’re actually presenting … their first name and their last name on their profile,” Amanda Lenhart, the study’s lead author, told Larry Magid in an interview for CBS News. “Add on to that their city or town and the name of their school and the number drops even lower. So it’s a very, very, very small number of teens who are actually posting info that can really allow them to be identified online.” Other key findings in the 55-page report: “Some 55% of online teens have profiles…. Of those … 66% say their profile is not visible to all Internet users.” Of those who do have public profiles, “nearly half (46%) say they give at least some false information. Teens post fake information to protect themselves and also to be playful or silly.” The study also reports that 32% of teens receive some kind of online communications from strangers, but not necessarily on a social-networking site. Amanda pointed out that “stranger” can mean a variety of things, from bands to unknown friends of friends to people with bad intentions. Sixty-five percent of respondents said they ignored or deleted those contacts; 21% “responded so they could find out more about the person”; 8% responded to say “leave me alone”; and 3% reported the contact to a trusted adult. There were dozens of news stories covering this around the world by the end of its release day. Here’s the Associated Press in the Sydney Morning Herald.

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