shutterstock
A recent study by Common Sense Media shows parents are concerned with how much personal information kids are sharing online.

Kids are posting too much private information on the Internet and parents are concerned, according to a recent study spearheaded by Common Sense Media.

While social networks are fun and have benefits, anything posted can be copied, pasted, forwarded, searched and viewed by unintended audiences, including marketers and advertisers, the study reports.

“Privacy is a huge issue for kids and teens today. Platforms like Facebook and YouTube present enormous privacy concerns,” said James Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media. “We hear from parents all the time that their kids’ behavior is being tracked. Kids are revealing a lot of information without really thinking about it before they do it. Those concerns are a big issue. That is why we have made privacy such a major issue for families in Utah and everywhere.”

Zogby International conducted a poll for Common Sense Media last September. Researchers asked teens and parents about their views of online privacy and how their personal information is being used by websites, social networks and other online platforms. There were three key findings:
  • Parents are deeply concerned about how much their kids are sharing.
  • Families need clear and simple information about privacy.
  • Parents want changes from tech companies and leadership from government.
Steyer said Common Sense Media was not surprised by the results of the study. “What jumped out at me the most is that this is a huge issue for a parents," he said. "Secondly, they (parents) feel we need new laws and regulations about privacy for kids and teens."

To help combat the problem, Common Sense Media launched a campaign to feature specific ways community leaders, policymakers, parents and educators can better protect kids’ privacy online. The campaign includes tips and videos for parents, and new privacy curriculum tools for teachers to use in the classroom.

Five simple privacy tips for parents include:

1. Make sure kids always use privacy settings, especially with social networks like Facebook.

2. No location sharing.

3. No questionaies, free giveaways or contests.

4. Make sure kids look for the opt-out buttons.

5. When in doubt, check it out.

As a father of three teenagers, Steyer understands privacy issues as well as any parent.

“I see these concerns every day,” he said. “My kids are pretty cognizant of the issues because I work at Common Sense, but I hear about it from their teachers, other parents and kids. It’s a huge concern. We expect to see new laws and regulations coming out of a bipartisan group in congress.”

For more information on the study and Common Sense Media, visit www.commonsensemedia.org.

E-mail: [email protected]