Young Facebook users are most vulnerable to security threats
Posted on 12 November 2012.
ZoneAlarm revealed the common behaviours of younger Facebook users that increase their susceptibility to encountering cyberbullying, predators and other security threats.

A ZoneAlarm report examined the online activities of 600 children worldwide, aged between 10-15, who regularly use Facebook. Three activities in particular showed a positive correlation with the occurrence of security threats: children adding Facebook ‘friends’ that may be strangers, playing Facebook games that request access to private account information, and using Facebook late at night.

Of the three activities that contribute to an increase in security threats, late night usage is highlighted as a major factor. According to the survey, children who are active on Facebook after midnight are exposed to more risks, and experience almost twice as many problems as users who log out before midnight.

These late-night users – which the study calls Facebook’s ‘Wild Children’ - are four times more likely to have large friend networks, consisting largely of individuals whom the users have never met in person.

Alarmingly, 60% of Facebook ‘Wild Children’ report having experienced serious problems including cyberbullying, account hacking, and unwanted attention from strangers.

43% of children on Facebook have experienced at least one serious problem:
  • problems may include cyberbullying, hacked accounts and strangers.
  • 40% of children take Facebook quizzes / play Facebook games that access personal information.
  • 33% of children have Facebook friends they have never met.
Almost 25% of children surveyed are active on Facebook after midnight – Facebook’s “Wild Children”:
  • Many ‘Wild Children’ are still online after 3am
  • Children online after midnight are four times more likely to have extremely large friend networks.
  • 44% of Facebook ‘Wild Children’ have Facebook friends they have never met in person.
  • 40% of Facebook ‘Wild Children’ have Facebook friends who do not know any of their other friends.
Facebook ‘Wild Children’ experience twice as many serious problems:
  • 60% report serious problems on Facebook
  • 15% report they have been approached by strangers
  • 20% report they have been cyberbullied
  • Despite these problems, 30% say they are unconcerned about the dangers on Facebook
  • And 30% have done nothing to improve their privacy.
The complete report is available here.


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