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SPONSORED: Teens Share More Online than Ever Before--and It’s Not a Good Thing

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Pew Internet and American Life Project conducted a study to compare things teens posted on social networks in 2006 versus what they posted in 2012. The survey found that teens have become more likely to share certain types of information that make them more prone to identity theft, sexual predator stalking, and cyberbullying. 

Facebook had 12 million active users in 2006 and reached 943 million active users in 2012. The continual increase of user growth has correlated directly with the amount of shared information. 

Since 2006, teens between the ages of 12-17 are more frequently posting private information on social networks.  Specifically, teens are more likely to post photos, hometown, school name, email address, and cell phone numbers than ever before (compared to 2006):

Photos                               15% more

Home City                          43% more

School name                       16% more

Cell phone                          900% more

Email address                      83% more 

In addition to posting basic information, teens shared more personal and revealing information in 2012:

Real Name                          92% more

Interests                             84% more

Date of Birth                        82% more

Relationship Status                62% more

Current Location                    16% more

With these changes to what is socially acceptable to share online, there is danger. Although relationship status, interests, cell phone, birthdate, and school name may seem like harmless bits of information, it provides enough for identity thieves and online predators to exploit, groom, and stalk users. 

You can never be too careful: even if profile settings are set to private, Facebook’s Graph Search allows users to find people based on interests, home city, school, etc.  You can search for the names of kids that go to your high school or junior high. 

Parents should speak with children about internet safety and the dangers of over-sharing. Better still, parents should strongly consider monitoring a teen’s posts, friends, and pictures on social networks with Facebook monitoring software such as Safe Eyes, Net Nanny Social or PureSight Owl.

Kids are more likely to get into trouble online by accident and only occasionally by intention.   

Note: This article and the opinions expressed here are from Russ Warner, Internet safety expert and CEO of ContentWatch, makers of parental control software Net Nanny. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter (@russwarner).

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