Facebook users lax on privacy, protecting children online

Do you use Facebook's privacy controls? If you don't, you're not alone, according to Consumer Reports.

Facebook users still do not use privacy controls to protect themselves, and a third of children under 18 are below the site's minimum age of 13, Consumer Reports reported in its June issue.

About 9.5 million Facebook users in the United States still do not use any type of privacy controls on the site, about one out of every five active users in the country, according to the "2011 Consumer Reports State of the Net Survey." The data is surprising, considering Facebook attempted to make some changes last year to address privacy concerns.

Education May Be the Answer

Facebook's problem may be that some users don't realize that they can control what they share. Consumer Reports found that two-thirds of these users not using the privacy controls didn't even know they existed.

"The fact that so many other Facebook users are still in the dark about the controls is troubling," Consumer Reports technology editor Jeffrey Fox wrote in a blog post. "These findings suggest that Facebook needs to further step up its efforts to inform users about the controls and make it easier to access them."

Privacy education isn't the only thing Facebook should be worrying about. Researchers found that about 7.5 million users were under the age of 13, the minimum age to use the site.

Facebook screens users and will reject those under 13, but getting in is as simple as falsifying your birth date. Worse yet, researchers believed that a large number of these profiles were unsupervised by their parents. Is this a problem? You bet: About one million children were harassed or cyberbullied on the site last year alone.

Just "Friend" Your Kid

There's a simple way these parents could be monitoring their children--simply adding them as a "friend." But surprisingly enough, only 18 percent of parents were doing so for those under 10. For those between 13 and 18, it was much higher at 62 percent.

While we may like to think our children are innocent and angelic when they're little, leaving them unsupervised on the Internet is never a good idea. If you're a parent, take the time to ensure your child is safe on Facebook. A little effort could certainly go a long way.

For more tech news and commentary, follow Ed on Twitter at @edoswald and on Facebook.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securitysocial mediainternetFacebooksocial networksonline privacyInternet-based applications and servicesAntivirus & Security

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ed Oswald

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?