Common Sense Media Releases First-Ever Safety Analysis of Most Popular Social Networking Sites for Tweens and Teens

Common Sense Media is the nation's leading nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving the impact of media and entertainment on kids and families.
For immediate release
Monday, June 9, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – In recognition of National Internet Safety Month, Common Sense Media today released the first-ever comparative analysis of specific Internet safety features on the social networking Web sites that are most popular with teens and tweens: MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, YouTube, Club Penguin, Webkinz, and Neopets.

The Internet Safety Scorecard reveals that while many of the sites have made significant strides to improve their safety features over the past couple of years, four of the seven sites reviewed were not adequately responsive to complaints about bullying and inappropriate content. In addition, although many privacy and safety features were added to these sites in the last two years, they are often difficult to find. In order to make parents’ and kids’ online lives much easier and safer, the Internet Safety Scorecard has provided links to some of these helpful features – for example, YouTube’s “safe search” filter.

“Clearly, as kids begin to use social networking sites at younger and younger ages, we’d like to see site administrators put some resources into responding more quickly to customers. There's no way of anticipating how these sites will be used and abused, so it’s important that the staff can be as reactive as the medium itself,” said Common Sense Media President Anne Zehren. “The good news for parents is that, overall, these sites have taken some significant steps over the past couple of years to put features in place that make the sites safer for young users. No site is perfect, but if parents and kids talk about Internet safety and kids follow a few basic safety rules, these sites can be safe, fun environments for kids to interact with each other.”

Visit Common Sense Media's internet safety resources to read the results of the report, as well as additional tips and tricks for keeping your kids safe online.

You can also download a PDF of the full report and the ratings grid.

The analysis included the three social networking sites that are most popular with teens (defined in the report as kids ages 12-17) – MySpace, Facebook and Bebo -- and the three sites that are most popular with tweens (defined in the report at kids ages 9-14): Club Penguin, Webkinz, and Neopets. YouTube was also included, since it attracts so many unique visitors from both the tween and teen age groups. Each site was evaluated on its privacy controls, policy on abusive and inappropriate content, tools for flagging inappropriate content, barriers preventing older users from contacting younger users, and responsiveness to complaints. This analysis was strictly limited to Internet safety and did not evaluate such important issues as commercialism and inappropriate content. For more information on these issues, visit www.commonsensemedia.org.

About Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is the nation's leading nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving the impact of media and entertainment on kids and families. Common Sense Media provides trustworthy ratings and reviews of media and entertainment based on child development criteria created by leading national experts. For more information, visit www.commonsensemedia.org. 

Topics: