A privacy challenge

Online communication is not always easy. Because of the virtual, distant character of the internet, the communication rules are slightly different. Young people often don’t realize this, leading them to behave unsafely. Some examples of privacy-related risky behavior:

  • Disclosure of too much personal information is the most common risky behavior online. Some information is disclosed easier than other. 80% of young people disclose profile data such as sex or age. They are more careful with contact data: 95% never tell their home address, 70% don’t communicate mobile phone numbers and 55% don’t reveal their e-mail address. Girls more easily disclose profile data, boys are less careful with contact data.
  • Disclosure of images: young people often don’t realize that webcam images can be recorded very easily by the ‘Print Screen’ button. More than 1 in 10 young people have been unknowingly filmed or photographed, seeing these images later online. Young people don’t realize that sexting-messages can be used against them if the relationship ends.

  • Chatting with strangers: 52% of Belgian teenagers chat with people they only know online, sometimes discussing very intimate things. 1 in 3 noticed their chat partner was lying about his or her identity. Of this group, again 1 in 3 discovered they were chatting with an adult pretending to be a teenager. Often young people use their webcam as a control-tool to see who is on the other side.

  • Cyber bullying: 1 in 3 children have been bullied online. Often there is a strong link between cyber bullying and privacy: people you don’t know sending you unwanted e-mail, ‘friends’ who know your password ‘hacking’ your MSN-account, people misusing your photos,… People, even your current friends, can misuse the personal information you have provided to them.