Nine out of 10 teens feel safer using social networking site

Nine out of 10 teenagers feel safer using social networking sites than they did a year ago, despite almost a quarter having experienced bullying at some stage, according to the findings of a new report.

The study, which was conducted by social networking site Piczo and polled 2,000 of its users, found nine out of 10 teens felt safer from the dangers of cyber bullying and grooming than they did 12 months ago, despite evidence of growing incidences of both occurring online.

Piczo said nearly a quarter of respondents had experienced cyber bullying using social networking sites, but only 36% of those asked said they would ever report any such incidence.

In contrast, 35% said they would block unwelcome users from contacting them again, suggesting users often "took matters into their own hands". Only 5% of those polled said they ignored threatening messages online "altogether".

According to Piczo, child safety issues were still pertinent to users of social networking sites and the parents of children, despite the sense of security and trust users often put in them.

In response to the findings, the site issued a list of suggested measures to improve online safety. These include taking part in online safety programmes, adopting zero tolerance to abuse, and ensuring the sites people visit have online policies enforced by government departments and safety bodies.

Keith Crowell, director of member services at Piczo, said: "Young people are feeling safer online, but there are varying degrees of awareness of the dangers that the web can present.

"This is an issue for parents and for the social networking sites that young people use, and we must ensure we take every measure to make their environment safer and more user-friendly."

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