Habbo Hotel is a popular virtual world for teens (especially younger teens) where you hang out as a squarish 2D avatar. As a part of their efforts around “Teen Online Safety Awareness Month,” they polled 3,000 of their users asking them about internet safety. Here’s what they found:
– 86.4% of teens say their parents have discussed online safety with them (this is great news!)
– 51.7% say they visit chat rooms at least once every day
– 18.5% say they have experienced chatting online with someone they found out was an adult pretending to be much younger
– 57.2% say they have chatted, IM’d or emailed with someone online that they have never met face to face (I think this would be higher in avatar communities than on MySpace, my sense is that teens aren’t talking up strangers quite this much on social networks)
– 26.6% say they have been asked questions about their sexuality or sexual experiences while chatting online that made them feel uncomfortable (assuming questions could have come from other teens, too, which seems pretty normal)
– 31.7% say they have posted personal information online before
– 72.5% are aware that anyone can view personal information they post online, not just their friends (this has risen dramatically in the past year)
It’s important to view these numbers in the context of the Habbo community, but it definitely makes you realize there are some creepy people looking to chat up kids and teens. At the same time, it’s very encouraging and crucial that parents are talking about this, especially with tweens. Still, the majority of teens surveyed have not had the experience of chatting with an adult pretending to be younger.
P.S. Check out this great recap of the “Under 18: Blogs, Wikis and Online Social Networking Sites for Youth” panel I was on promoting Totally Wired at a conference called SXSW (South By Southwest Interactive).