Policy

Nearly One in Three Kids 8-12 Contacted By Strangers Online: Cox Survey

7/22/2008 10:49 AM Eastern

About a third of kids between eight and 12 years of age said they have been contacted online by strangers, according to findings made during the third annual Cox Communications Internet safety survey.

Further, 18% of those 28% who were targeted by strangers said they kept the communications to themselves and another 11% said they had talked to the stranger.

The survey was released in conjunction with a teen summit in Washington in Internet safety sponsored by Cox and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. It is part of the telecom company's Take Charge! initiative, which aims to gives consumers tools to made smarter media decisions.

“Our first line of defense in keeping kids safe is parents and guardians, and most parents seem to be taking this responsibility seriously,” said John Walsh (pictured), host of America's Most Wanted on Fox, and a participant in the summit.

“Seventy-three percent of the tweens who participated in our survey indicated that Mom and Dad had talked to them ‘a lot’ about Internet safety.  The remaining 27% represents too many kids to leave unprotected when there are people out there who have the compulsion to commit horrible acts.  Each child with Internet access must learn as much about safety as possible. The stakes are just too high,” he said.

The survey indicated that 90% of tweens using the Internet began doing so by the time they were nine years old. Most kids, 86% according to the survey, between eight and 10 years of age start out telling their parents “a lot” or “everything” about their online activities. But by the time they turn 11 or 12, only 69% of tweens are communicating fully with their parents about their Internet activities.

That communications gap leaves them especially vulnerable, because at 11 to 12 years of age, 34% of tweens have begun posting on social networking sites, and the survey shows about 25% of users of those sites are posting personally identifiable information, such as pictures, the name of their home towns and their ages.

Sixteen tweens from Cox communities, who are participating in the summit today, will visit members of Congress tomorrow to share the survey information.

September