In the age of the internet, the safety of children has always been a troubling issue. Between March and June this year, the European Commission conducted a series of tests on Habbo Hotel, Skyrock, Dailymotion, Windows Live, Xbox Live, YouTube, Flickr, Stardoll and Yahoo! Pulsen for implementation of the Safer Social Networking Principles. The results have been surprising-Xbox LIVE and Habbo Hotel were the only ones to include default settings which make minors’ personal profiles accessible only to their approved list of contacts, and are now considered to be the safest social networks available by the self-regulatory agreement “Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU”.
The objective has been to review protection of minors online, set by the Digital Agenda for Europe to enhance trust in cyberspace. The results of implementation of the Safer Social Networking Principles will be taken into account by the Commission later this year to strengthen and protect children online.
- So they claim Xbox Live and Habbo Hotel are the safest, but how do the rest stack up?
- In all of the tested websites, minors can be sent friend requests by anyone.
- Only six of the tested websites can children’s profiles be directly accessed by friends of friends.
- Most provide safety information and guidance aimed at minors, and respond to requests for help.
- Only Dailymotion and Windows Live have a default option that guarantees children can only be contacted by friends.
“Young people enjoy and derive great benefits from social networking online but are often not conscious enough of risks such as grooming. Social networking sites need to take seriously their responsibilities towards these youngsters. I intend to address these issues later this year in a comprehensive strategy on making the internet a safer place for children through a combination of protective and empowerment measures.” –Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda.
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