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The Internet

Teens Actually Do Protect Their Online Profiles 137

Thib writes "A study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project reveals that the majority of teens pay attention to what they are revealing about themselves in their online social profiles. For instance, while many routinely use their first name or include a picture, 'fewer than a third of teens with profiles use their last names, and a similar number include their e-mail addresses. Only 2 percent list their cell phone numbers.' The study comes to light just as state legislatures once again begin to mutter about the dangers of online predators. From the article: 'According to Pew, 45 percent of online teens do not have profiles at all, a figure that contradicts widespread perceptions that the nation's youths are continually on MySpace.'"
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Teens Actually Do Protect Their Online Profiles

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  • "Only" 2 percent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frequency Domain ( 601421 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @11:45PM (#18820861)
    That's still a huge number of people who have exposed themselves to risk.
    • I would bet that the percent of teens who would reveal the same information in another medium, a phone call, someone asking for a friend's name/address etc. would be similar, by which I mean it's likely that that 2% would reveal the information whether or not they had the internet. Sure, the internet makes it a little easier to find such information, but I highly doubt it actually makes anyone more or less likely to reveal information.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by maxume ( 22995 )
      So just how hard do you pound the 98% with the sense to look after themselves up the ass to make sure that dipshit and dumbass don't get in trouble?
      • So just how hard do you pound the 98% with the sense to look after themselves up the ass to make sure that dipshit and dumbass don't get in trouble?
        Well, I've never been good at looking after myself up the ass but I am petitioning the government to install toe-level foam padding on all doors, furniture, and refrigerators. I've probably stubbed my toe 1,000 times now and I still keep doing it... it's only a matter of time before this harms the children or causes an abortion!
    • by Lehk228 ( 705449 ) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @12:09AM (#18821027) Journal
      and what risk is that? getting crank calls?
      • No, you can reverse-lookup a phone number without too much problem to find the address that it is registered under. It can only be assumed once someone has done this that the exposed person was a girl, and that she will be stalked, kidnapped, beaten, raped, and killed. No other scenario will be address.
        • by Grym ( 725290 ) *

          What teen today uses a land-line? Good luck doing a reverse-lookup on a mobile phone.

          It can only be assumed once someone has done this that the exposed person was a girl, and that she will be stalked, kidnapped, beaten, raped, and killed.


          Why would you just assume that? That's ridiculous. Even if one were able to obtain a teen's home address, how does that constitute some all-powerful knowledge over their existence and safety? Why don't we just ban listings in phonebooks for individuals with ch

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            Yes, in the above statement, I made 6 assumptions. The number (and nature) of assumptions was purposely unrealistic to reflect upon what lawmakers are likely attempting to plan for. Yes, it does yeild to the conclusion that we should ban phone numbers, which is also an unreallistic and unlikely conclusion. Sarcasm, I am afraid, was not transmitted effectively.
    • by jhfry ( 829244 ) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @01:24AM (#18821363)
      Far better than the odds of contracting HIV/AIDS... and hell I'd be willing to bet that more than 2% (male and female combined) of teens will be pregnant before they are no longer teens.

      Essentially, what they are saying is that the number of "at risk" teens online is smaller than the number of "at risk" teens using every other proven method to attract sexual predators... such as well SEX, drinking, drugs, SEX, etc.

      I am the neighborhood "computer guy", and I have been constantly asked by my neighbors with tweens and teens (mostly girls) if "it's safe to let their kids on the internet?" I tell these concerned parents the same thing. "The fact that your concerned tells me that it is safe. Just make sure your kids know the risks and how important it is to keep their 'real' life private."

      Letting your kids online is far safer than dropping them off at the mall for a few hours, and most parents don't hesitate to do that!. We all know that the predators are out there... but these freaks are desperate for a reason. KIDS ARE NOT THAT STUPID!!! Sure it happens from time to time; a creep is better than average, or a kid is more vulnerable, but as a whole kids have great instincts. The creep you really need to spend some energy worrying about is the kid that's fondling your daughter every morning on the school bus and sits next to her in English, he's gonna have a far easier time convincing her to have sex than some internet predator.
      • I'd be willing to bet that more than 2% (male and female combined) of teens will be pregnant before they are no longer teens.

        I'd be willing to GUARANTEE that no more than 0% of the males in your group will be pregnant before they are no longer teens. In fact, I'll extend my guarantee for life.

        (I know what you meant, but I've always hated that particular abuse of the English language just to make fathers feel more "responsible" and "involved")
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jhfry ( 829244 )
          Actually, I wasn't insinuating that at all.... I am saying that more than 2% of the combined (male + female) teen community will be pregnant or have a child.

          Assuming an even distribution of male and female (50% each sex), then it would actually mean that 4% of the teen girls would be pregnant while they were teens, since 0% of the boys could be.

          I guess thats one of those cases where I knew what I was trying to say, and it seemed clear to me because I knew what I was saying, but it actually doesn't say what
    • by EdelFactor19 ( 732765 ) <> on Saturday April 21, 2007 @02:09AM (#18821617)
      SO? 1 out of 5 dentists still think chewing sugarless gum after meals isn't a good idea... and that's 20 percent.
      • SO? 1 out of 5 dentists still think chewing sugarless gum after meals isn't a good idea... and that's 20 percent.

        Actually, I'd bet it's somewhere closer to 99.9% of dentists who think that chewing any type of gum isn't a good idea. The truth is that "4 out of 5 dentists circled the sugarless gum answer while they were enjoying their gift basket, the other fifth refused to circle an answer and wrote 'I would not recommend chewing gum because ______' before they returned the survey card". Unfortunately they had to make it a bit less wordy so that it would fit into a 30 second commercial.

    • I've always had my cell phone number public online. The trick is being 100% uninteresting and not worth finding ;D
    • Yes but I imagine over 10 percent of teens expose themselves to risk offline, so its fairly small fish in the big scheme of things. Or do we not worry about offline dangers anymore?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 1u3hr ( 530656 )
      exposed themselves to risk.

      What risk, they "exposed" their cell, phone numbers. Big deal. My phone number, name and address have been PRINTED IN THE PHONE BOOK for the last 20 years!!! Yet I have somehow survived. There are much greater risks in the real world than online, or on the phone.

    • Fewer than a third (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LoverOfJoy ( 820058 )

      'fewer than a third of teens with profiles use their last names,
      And fewer than a third of teens with profiles are actually teens. :)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bhiestand ( 157373 )

        'fewer than a third of teens with profiles use their last names,

        And fewer than a third of teens with profiles are actually teens. :)

        And fewer than a third of non-teens with profiles that say they're teens are actually interested in interacting with teens. Most of them are just police and FBI agents trying to catch other adults doing the same thing.

        I found this out the hard way when I was trying to pick up another girl my age in a chat room many years ago. Now how do you handle a situation where an >18 law enforcement officer is attempting to arrange a meeting with an 16 child because he believes the child is really another adult l

  • Maybe we can finally that prove to the do-gooders everywhere that us teens can actually think for themselves, and don't need condescending legislation to protect us.
  • between "listing" information and "giving" information. The online predator thing is obviously a problem, no matter what you say. Too many teens are willing to "give" their personal information via personal chats and e-mails. But yes, the truth of the article is that not very many teens will simply list their personal information on profiles.
    • No... (Score:1, Troll)

      by Belial6 ( 794905 )
      No, the online predator thing is not a problem. There might be a predator problem, but like bad patents, putting "online", or "computer" on the front does not change what it is. Before you worry about predators "online", you should ask yourself this...

      If you had to choose, would you rather leave your child alone for the weekend with the internet, or with a Catholic priest?

      Then ask your friends. What you will get is laughter. Why? Because we all know the answer, but are uncomfortable saying it. I
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vidarh ( 309115 )
        The persons you really should be worried about leaving your children with are family/relatives and friends of the family. In the UK, a child protection group released a report a few years back pointing out that in 75% of all child abuse cases the abuse was carried out by parents, siblings, other relatives and friends of the family. The remaining 25% was spread over all other groups of potential abusers, with most of it being people the children had run into offline.

        Of course, part of the reason so few get

      • Just because it is part of a bigger problem does not mean that it is not a problem by itself. Yes, the online predator thing IS a problem.
  • by essence ( 812715 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @11:47PM (#18820875) Homepage Journal
    Why is it that politicians are always addressing the symptoms of societies problems?

    How long till they want to simply ban the internet?

    What is it that causes people to prey on children in the first place? I think there should be more investigation into that.
    • Sex drive?
      • If it were that simple, they'd pick up perfectly-legal people at bars like every other horny jerk. Pedophiles often lack adult sexual attractions and go just for kids. It could be an innocence thing or a youth thing or...I don't know, but there's something "special" about kids that turns pedos on.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zappepcs ( 820751 )
      For a government that promotes the no child left behind education strategy, this is just one of the better examples of where that same government does not believe that people can learn. While they purport to support education they try everything to take away rights to protect the citizenry from lack of education rather than give the people the education they need.

      phishing and identity crimes are all about tricking people who don't know better (for the most part).

      Its time the government did something helpful
      • Its time the government did something helpful instead of something protective

        The problem is that government officials always believe they're doing both. Society can and does evolve without government "solutions". Do you really think the story about "creepy old guys on myspace" spread to congressmen before it spread through every school in the country? If there's one thing adolescents do well, it's communicate. They may not heed the warnings, but it's not like you can pass legislation that will make them c

      • by TheLink ( 130905 )
        "phishing and identity crimes are all about tricking people who don't know better (for the most part)."

        Heh, and you think politicians already in power want a large majority of people who can't be easily tricked and know better?

        Go look at Diebold, the "nonwar" on Iraq, etc and you'll see a large part of it is about tricking people who don't know better.
    • by ShaunC ( 203807 ) *

      How long till they want to simply ban the internet?

      Fuck that, I'm waiting for our Congresscritters to figure out that the solution is to ban children. Without children, 99% of the so-called "problems" that the legislature attempts to address would no longer exist.
  • Elders (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hao Wu ( 652581 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @11:47PM (#18820877) Homepage
    I am far more worried about senior citizens being preyed on than any child online.
    • Re:Elders (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Architect_sasyr ( 938685 ) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @12:10AM (#18821035)
      I agree. Protect against Spam and Scam's first. Children at least have parents who should have taught them properly, the elderly don't have this...
    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *
      True. In my experience, the elderly are a lot more naive about computer-related stuff, and far easier to scam, or frighten into buying something they don't really need, etc, etc. The real problem is that most are still rather mystified by and somewhat afraid of this newfangled computer and internet thingee, and are forced to trust whatever someone tells them -- anything to lead them out of the technical maze they find themselves lost in. And many believe that you MUST always put real and complete info on ev
      • by Hao Wu ( 652581 )

        And many believe that you MUST always put real and complete info on every web form you encounter, just like you would with forms in meatspace.

        I have seen that, as well as the opposite problem-- my dad, for example, thinks he has cleverly fooled the world into never being able to track him, just by using a fake name. When I describe the methods that "THEY" can still scam him, he firmly asserts: "They can't do that!"

        !? "Really dad, they can."

        "No they can't!"

        For the longest time, I kept my parents on di

        • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *
          Yeah, I've seen that too.

          Silliest one I ever heard: Someone who used a fake name but their real credit card number and address!

  • fewer than a third of teens with profiles use their last names

    Is it me, or is 33% a hell of a lot of stupid teens? I don't if I would be crowing that that somehow proves that there isn't a problem with teens protecting their identities.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Last name isn't exactly a hard to acquire piece of information. For example a large number of schools publish the first and last names of their honor students, some with pictures (and I don't mean yearbooks, I mean newspapers).

      I don't mention my last name when discussing something online, and my first only comes out after I've known someone for at least a year, but I don't doubt these pieces of information would be hard to acquire for someone who really wanted them...
    • No, I disagree. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rustalot42684 ( 1055008 ) <fake@account.BOYSENcom minus berry> on Saturday April 21, 2007 @12:18AM (#18821087)
      Last names aren't exactly the most revealing piece of info evar. Besides which, there is more than one case here: Someone could post their first & last names on a social networking site, such as Facebook, with a "friends-only" profile setting (the default) so that only people they authorize can see it (as I do), or they could just put it out there. There's a big difference, and I would have to wonder if the study took that into account. Also, people might have varying levels of personal info available on different sites (eg. have more info on a Facebook page than a /. or digg page, for the above reason).
      • Last names can be kind of important in certain situations. The profiles I use on myspace and similar sites are mainly to help collect and promote the creative works I'm associated with. If you're trying to become known for something it seems you have to exchange security (maybe only to a small extent) for promotion.
      • by Firehed ( 942385 )
        From my experience, that's what most people do. My Facebook profile has pretty complete contact info for me, but only my friends can view the whole thing. My blog and other fully-visible stuff excludes things like phone number and exact location. Of course, I often have my cell number in my AIM away message which is on my blog's about page, but I don't consider myself an especially high-risk target and certainly know better than to fall for some creep's lure.

        The information being visible isn't the real i
    • It is, no one can deny, but this figure clearly will slow down any legislative attempts on MySpace and the like because politicians would no longer be ostensibly "protecting the gullible, defenseless teens" but simply legislating morality. And we know what happened when they tried that. (See Prohibition [] if you can't remember)
    • I have been using the net since I was in 4th grade and my online identity is in no way related to my real persona. Don't relate your real name to your online one. I've been doing it since grade school. Most people know this.

      TaDa! Instant %100 protection.
      • Heh... On more than one of my online 'profiles' (read:required registration), I'm a 90 year old female from albania. Or Afghanistan.

        I also stick 90210 in for zip codes, sometimes I'll put in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC, 20500

        If they wanted accuracy, they'd be better off making it not required.
    • by jopsen ( 885607 )
      Sorry, but I don't see anything wrong in that... I have a nickname I use many places, and all my profiles links to my website, where there's both image, phone number, address etc... I've had it like that for quite some years now... (Which means that it was also there when I was a kid) My guess is that it's a little overrated, just because you reveal your identity doesn't mean your stupid...
    • Well my name's John Smith, so no, I don't think I'm a stupid teen.

      Alright, my name isn't John Smith, but it is quite a common name (although I do point out I'm no longer a teen).
  • Great (Score:5, Funny)

    by abscissa ( 136568 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @11:52PM (#18820919)
    Personally, I think this is fantastic news. People expose themselves on the Internet far too often and quite often volunteer information which they really should not.

    Geoff Robertson
    3304 Celeste Ave.
    Dupage, IL 39182
    (630) 555-1221
    • SSN: 579 234 889 Visa CC #: 8976 2334 6672 3462 9834 Exp Date: 03/09 There, fixed for you...
    • Thankyou Mr. Robertson for providing me with all that information. Although it would have been easier to get a phone book then troll the web for such info. Perhaps Congress should stop putting people's information in phone books without their express consent, rather then do it by default and charge people to keep it private.
  • by mpapet ( 761907 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @11:52PM (#18820923) Homepage
    than some politicians want to make them sound, it's a thinly veiled attempt to legislate morality. (again)

    How about the politicians concentrate on some more important issues? Trade balance? Fiscal policy.
    • Not only are kids *much* smarter than some politicians want to make them sound, it's a thinly veiled attempt to legislate morality. (again)

      Riiiight. Because (effectiveness of anything aside) all those antedeluvian conservatives are just trying to enforce their own narrow-minded world view which unjustly classifies, oh, stalkers, pedophiles and rapists as a "danger to society". This prudish, dogmatic grandstanding has no place in a free society! Stalkers are just misunderstood, and a truly just society would surely recognize their tendencies as a healthy, valid expression of their own individual volition!

      But what "it" were you talking about

      • by mpapet ( 761907 )
        Riight. It's a simple black-and-white issue. We know who the enemy is, let's "just" put them all in jail. We have one of the largest prison populations in the world and it hasn't done a thing to address "dangers to society."

        We've got a long list of our enemies that seem to flourish despite harsh penalties: illicit drug users, terrists, gamblers and murderers. Put those damn liberals on the list and the world will be much safer!

        As much as you may want it to work, legislating morality doesn't work.
  • Thanks CNN (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20, 2007 @11:54PM (#18820939)

    Dashiell Feiler, a 16-year-old high school junior, said he keeps his profiles open, but uses at most his first name and last initial. He said people who find him tend to be friends anyway, but he left off his full name as a precaution.
    This has got to be one of the most ironic statements I've read in a while.
  • by j00r0m4nc3r ( 959816 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @11:55PM (#18820949)
    widespread perceptions that the nation's youths are continually on MySpace

    What widespread group of people actually thinks this? I would love to see them back this up with valid statistical data. I think maybe it's "widespread perceptions [amongst the 4 computer-ignorant soccer moms at our office] that the nation's..."

  • by RobinH ( 124750 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @11:56PM (#18820953) Homepage
    This depends a lot on the website. On facebook you can choose who can see your profile, so in my case only my friends can see it. Other people can see my name, a picture (I seem to be the only one with a picture of me without alcohol in the shot) and can see who my friends are. However, on my profile, I put all my contact information so my old school friends can contact me if they want to.
    • Thanks to proliferation of media, you hear stories about someone getting into trouble for blogging about their work or posting nasty remarks about their teachers/principle. You never know when something you say (albeit being perfectly legal) will be used against you. I think most people, teens and adults alike, would now think twice against using identifiable information in online profiles.

      Consider this scenario; you're just venting your distress about life, writing about someone that you aren't ready to co
      • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *
        You are absolutely correct. And a lot of the problem with these blogs is that they're really diaries, not truly meant for public consumption, but many people don't quite get how thorough search engines are, or what trouble they can generate for themselves by writing in a publicly-readable blog what they would not say to someone's face.

        As to the child predator issue, ISTM the simple solution is to default such spaces to "private, viewing allowed only by marked-friends and/or by invitation". If the account ho
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @12:00AM (#18820973) Homepage

    It can't be worse than high school. You have to go. You don't get paid. You don't get to pick whom you're with. You're not anonymous. The place is regimented, cliquish, and crowded. Being popular is hard work, and being unpopular is a pain.

    Myspace is a relief from all that. The worst day on Myspace is better than a moderately bad day of high school. On Myspace people can annoy you, but you can block them. Unlike real life.

  • Thats a huge number of last name out there even %0.1 is still thousands of kids leaving themselves open. I hardly think this is sufficient to claim that teens are protecting their info.
    • by AuMatar ( 183847 )
      What good is a last name? Great- you know his name is Smith. So what?
    • by 1u3hr ( 530656 )
      Thats a huge number of last name out there even %0.1 is still thousands of kids leaving themselves open.

      Open to what? Many of them probably have their surnames printed on their clothes, books, bags.... I had mine painted on my bike. Every day in the newspaper you see photos of people with their full names. (Eg, local sports events reports.) Oh no! But wait, they've been doing that for 100 years. Having it on the INTERNET means it must be dangerous, because everyone knows pedophiles would rather track some

      • i don't think the fear is, or should be perhaps i should say, that children's names are put out "there" (although a name/photo may want to be discouraged in youths for other reasons) but rather that they are becoming themselves as budding young people in a world where everything is tied back to them. there are philosophical / policy reasons why people may want to argue this is ok. Regardless, children, most people, do not have the capacity to understand the possible permanence of their postings.

        As Schnei
      • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *
        And hey, if some leet hacker pervert wants to have sex with my profile, go for it. I'm sure my profile is bored, since I almost never use it. :)

  • Every school I visit has the same problem - the Dept of Ed's firewall blocks MySpace but all the kids Google: proxy and find a way to bypass it. The complab teacher requests a block of the proxy, but another just pops-up.

    So, I tell them - why not have a conversation about what MySpace is and what they use it for? Fun things to do, bad things to avoid etc. But I believe there is a such a paranoia of parents and administration (and we're talking New York City DOE administration and parents, not exactly t
    • by FLEB ( 312391 )
      MySpace is not what anyone is there for. At best, it's an undue distraction. At worst, it's an invitation for numerous technological and social problems.
      • by maxume ( 22995 )
        I'm pretty sure that at a minimum, they aren't there for you or I to decide what they are there for.
        • by FLEB ( 312391 )
          The users are in a school, a place defined in the least by the goal of education, and further by the specific educational requirements of the community being served. Does this need to be "decided"?

          What are you trying to say?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'll admit it, I have a MySpace account. I also have an account at Stickam, which is sort of a MySpace for webcam users.

    I'm amazed at the disparity in personal information revealed by people between both sites. The same folks who are more than willing to put their full name, life story, names of friends and significant others, etc. up on MySpace suddenly get shy on Stickam. It seems that there's a comfort in the presumed disconnect of MySpace, where you can post pictures of yourself, and Stickam, where you'
    • by FLEB ( 312391 )
      Unless you have the time to build a "Subservient Chicken" parser, it's a lot harder to put up a webcam "feed" of someone who's far more attractive than you.

      Plus, they're selling the video. The pics are free.
  • by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @04:13AM (#18822035) Journal
    I remember a little girly talking to me about how safe she was online. I sent her a google map link to her high school and the approximate location of her house and picture of her self.

    She got the idea pretty quick.
    • by damsa ( 840364 )
      Are you sure it wasn't dateline?
    • I'm not a teenager girl, but I challenge you to do the same to me.
      • by maxume ( 22995 ) [] narrows it down by at least 90%, and after 5 minutes, I would say that there is about a 30% chance that your name is John Lynch... (and I haven't even started to read your 2000+ comments yet(and I'm not going to))
        • Okay that's just truly bizarre. Googling aussie_a produces a link to my webcomic (which I'm guessing is how you got it as a quick look only produced slashdot results) despite the fact aussie_a has never appeared on that website. Google has some pretty sophisticated algorithms there.
  • It only takes one teen to get raped/mollested/etc for a community to start an organization to stop internet predators. Isn't that a common trend with anything? Virginia Tech for example: statistically, the odds of such an event is hugely small. Given that MySpace has so many users, now, there is a higher number of individuals prone to such predators. But the numbers are still low considering the amount of people that actively visit MySpace. It's like saying we should destroy air travel because of one air p
  • *Actually* (Score:3, Funny)

    by matt me ( 850665 ) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @06:52AM (#18822541)
    The word *actually* is only used by teenagers, and it means 'not'. eg

    "No teacher, the dog *actually* ate my homework"
    "They *actually* had sex in a bush"
    "I hear they *actually* published Duke Nukem Forever."
    • What's awesome is that today's teenagers, in many cases, wouldn't even know who Duke Nukem even IS. Another couple of years and that vaporware will actually be OLDER than the average teenager.

      That joke gets funnier every day.
  • People who are smart enough to explain how the intertubes work to their offspring will have a better chance to pass on their genes.
    The others will be exterminated in the process.
    • by maxume ( 22995 )
      Except that much of the 'bad stuff' that we are talking about ends up costing society quite a lot of money without really having much impact on the reproductive success of the people involved.
  • Could someone explain to me why you are at such an increased risk if your contact details are online? Most abuse is from family or close relatives, or people known to the family. School staff, neighbors, local sports club etc... I mean I'm sure I have given away sufficient information about myself to track me down at some point, but why would anyone bother? The way I see it the real risk is people online persuading others to "meet up" in places where they are more at risk, or easier to exploit. Thus the rea

What is algebra, exactly? Is it one of those three-cornered things? -- J.M. Barrie