Growing worry about kids' online postings

19:56, May 04 2014

We are getting more savvy about online privacy but are still worried about the way our kids are using it, a survey by the Privacy Commissioner's office suggests.

Eighty-five per cent of the 750 people surveyed were concerned about what children were posting about themselves on the internet.

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards said there could be a disconnect between the level of concern and children's use, but there was some cause for worry.

"The cyber-bullying, the revenge porn, nude selfies and things like that - it's been featured in the media but it is real also. The technology is being used for some of these anti-social purposes."

The level of concern was on a par with March 2012 numbers, and older people and parents were most likely to be worried.

"I think older people are concerned because they don't believe children are fully cognisant of the permanence of their posts and that it'll still be there in 10, 15 years time when they're looking for a job."

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The survey showed nine out of 10 of those aged 18 to 30 had a Facebook account, compared to seven out of 10 aged 30 to 44.

Despite the increase in use, Edwards said there appeared to be a declining level of trust in social networking platforms - only 18 per cent believed they were trustworthy.

"More people than ever are using Facebook, for example, but more people don't trust it as a platform.

"So I guess people are being a bit smarter about how to use it; about their privacy settings."

Those aged 18 to 30 had a higher level of trust of the platforms.

The survey showed more than half of the respondents considered the platforms a public rather than a private space, and people were getting more savvy about how to use them.

"People's understanding is going to get more sophisticated and we, as consumers of these services, are going to demand a greater level of control and autonomy over these services and that information," Edwards said.

More than half the respondents trusted health service providers with private information, but about one-third said ACC was untrustworthy.

Fairfax Media