Microsoft, Safety Expert Releases New Data on Social Networking Practices Among Children and Parents

It's hard to pick up a newspaper today and not read a story about growing concerns over the risks associated with social networking. Heightened regulatory scrutiny, pressure from public interest advocates for increased transparency and additional accountability, as well as concern among educators, parents and caregivers pushes online safety to new levels. Yet, Internet use has become such a part of our lives, it's sometimes easy to forget to use basic safety precautions when going online.

New research released by Microsoft found that 56 percent of parents "friend" their child on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, and nearly half - 49 percent - log into their child's account. Yet, the research also found that only 10 percent utilize monitoring software. Even more concerning is that some 30 percent of kids open their first social networking account before age 13 and 84 percent of these kids are on Facebook or MySpace in spite of a minimum age requirement for these services.

To address the issue, Microsoft teamed up with online safety advocate and founder of iLOOKBOTHWAYS, Linda Criddle, to create a new calendar application that reminds parents each month to talk to their kids about staying safe online. The program works with Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 and provides tips about online privacy and the importance of talking to your children about Internet risks like cyberbullying. The best part about the program? It can be downloaded for free.

Links to the calendar application can be found here: