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Children’s Advocate John Walsh, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Cox Communications Announce Results of Teen Internet Survey

New Research Reveals Risky Internet Behavior Among Teens, but There are Encouraging Signs of Improvement with Increased Involvement of Parents and Guardians

Children's Advocate John Walsh, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Cox Communications Announce Results of Teen Internet Survey

John Walsh to discuss research in satellite media tour and webcast today

ATLANTA – New research by Cox Communications Inc., in partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) and TV host and children's advocate John Walsh reveals that more parents and guardians are talking to their children about the potential dangers of the Internet. Still, many teens remain unconcerned about the risks of sharing personal info online and nearly two-thirds post photos or videos of themselves.

The findings are from the third annual survey Cox and NCMEC have fielded to help parents and guardians understand the potential dangers of the Internet. The 2007 survey was nearly identical to the questions asked in 2006, revealing compelling year-over-year trends about teen Internet use. Key findings:

Teens are increasingly active online and at potential risk of falling prey to online predators.

  • A large majority of teens (71%) have established online profiles (including those on social networking sites such as MySpace, Friendster and Xanga), up from 61% in 2006.
  • 69% of teens regularly receive personal messages online from people they don't know and most of them don't tell a trusted adult about it.
  • Teens readily post personal info online. 64% post photos or videos of themselves, while more than half (58%) post info about where they live. Females are far more likely than male teens to post personal photos or videos of themselves (70% vs. 58%).
  • Nearly one in 10 teens (8%) has posted his or her cell phone number online.
  • Overall, 19% of teens report they have been harassed or bullied online, and the incidence of online harassment is higher (23%) among 16 and 17 year-olds. Girls are more likely to be harassed or bullied than boys (21% vs. 17%).

Parents and guardians are becoming more involved in monitoring their teens' Internet use and talking to them about online safety.

  • Parental awareness of their teens' online activities has risen significantly. This year, 25% of teens say their parents know “little” or “nothing” about what they do online, down from 33% last year.
  • 41% of teens report their parents talk to them “a lot” about Internet safety (up five points over 2006), and three out of four say their parents have talked to them in the past year about the potential dangers of posting personal info. The level of parental involvement is higher for younger teens and girls, although it has increased across all age groups and both genders.
  • Teens whose parents have talked to them “a lot” about Internet safety are more concerned about the risks of sharing personal info online than teens whose parents are less involved. For instance, 65% of those whose parents have not talked to them about online safety post info about where they live, compared to 48% of teens with more involved parents.
  • Teens whose parents have talked to them “a lot” about online safety are less likely to consider meeting face to face with someone they met on the Internet (12% vs. 20%).

Many teens are unconcerned about the dangers of sharing personal info online.

  • A majority of teens (58%) don't think posting photos or other personal info on social networking sites is unsafe.
  • Nearly half of teens (47%) aren't worried about others using their personal info in ways they don't want (although that represents a 10-percentage-point improvement over 2006).
  • About half (49%) are unconcerned posting personal info online might negatively affect their future.

Teens are showing some signs of making safer, smarter choices online.

  • While 16% of teens say they've considered meeting face to face with someone they've talked to only online, that marks a significant drop compared to the 30% of teens who were considering such a meeting in 2006. In 2007, 8% of teens say they actually have met in person with someone from the Internet, down from 14% in 2006.
  • When they receive online messages from someone they don't know, 60% of teens say they usually respond only to ask who the person is. Compared to the 2006 survey, there was a 10-percentage-point increase in teens ignoring such messages (57% vs. 47%). Still, nearly a third of teens (31%) say they usually reply and chat with people they don't know, and only 21% tell a trusted adult when they receive such messages.

The national teen Internet survey was funded by Cox Communications in partnership with NCMEC and John Walsh and was conducted in March 2007 among 1,070 teens age 13 to 17. The research was conducted online by TRU.

Walsh, host of “America's Most Wanted,” will discuss the research and implications for families live in local broadcast television and radio interviews today. He also will be available via Web cast 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EDT today to answer viewers' questions about Internet safety and discuss the teen survey in greater detail. To view the Web cast, go to http://www.visualwebcaster.com/event.asp?id=39334.

As a continuation of the research findings, Cox will partner with NCMEC, Walsh and Miss America 2007 Lauren Nelson on the second annual Cox Communications National Teen Summit on Internet Safety June 27 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Teen participants will discuss Internet safety and ways parents, guardians and teen mentors can help children and young adults be safer online, and will deliver the messages directly to Capitol Hill in meetings with members of Congress. The Summit will air on Cox Cable channels nationwide in late summer.

Complete survey results, online safety tools and tips, and links to NCMEC and other resources are at www.cox.com/TakeCharge. Cox's Take Charge program was launched in conjunction with Walsh in 2004 to educate parents and guardians about the importance of Internet safety and to help families get the most out of mass media in the home. It provides scores of resources to help parents and guardians manage what their children see, and don't see, on TV and the Internet—from instructions on setting parental controls, to a guide to the lingo teens use online, to tips for more constructive conversations between parents and kids. Teaching young children and teens how to stay safer online is a major element of the Take Charge program, thanks in part to Cox's partnership with NetSmartz.com, a collaboration between NCMEC and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Cox has donated nearly $30 million worth of advertising time to NetSmartz and NCMEC to encourage safer online behavior among children.

About the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)

NCMEC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. NCMEC's congressionally mandated CyberTipline, a reporting mechanism for child sexual exploitation, has handled more than 475,000 leads. Since its establishment in 1984, NCMEC has assisted law enforcement with more than 130,300 missing child cases, resulting in the recovery of more than 112,900 children. For more information about NCMEC, call its toll-free, 24-hour hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST or visit its web site at www.missingkids.com.

About Cox Communications, Inc.

Cox Communications is a multi-service broadband communications and entertainment company with more than 6 million total residential and commercial customers. The third-largest cable television company in the United States, Cox offers an array of advanced digital video, high-speed Internet and telephony services over its own nationwide IP network, as well as integrated wireless services in partnership with Sprint (NYSE: S). Cox Business Services is a full-service, facilities-based provider of communications solutions for commercial customers, providing high-speed Internet, voice and long distance services, as well as data and video transport services for small to large-sized businesses. Cox Media offers national and local cable advertising in traditional spot and new media formats, along with promotional opportunities and production services. More information about the services of Cox Communications, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises, is available at www.cox.com, www.coxbusiness.com, and www.coxmedia.com.

Cox Communications:
Anthony Surratt, anthony.surratt@cox.com, 404-843-5124

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children:
Communications Department, media@ncmec.org, 703-837-6111

John Walsh:
Avery Mann, amann@amw.com, 240-482-1199

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