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Poll: Parents Fear Sex Predators More than Cyberbullies

A new poll released today on behalf of online safety watchdogs Common Sense Media, or CSM, finds that parents concerned about their children sharing information online worry far more about sexual predators than cyberbullies.

The poll of 2,100 adults, conducted by Zogby, found that 92 percent of parents—and 82 percent of all adults—were either "somewhat" or "very" concerned about children sharing too much information on the Web.

But despite several high-profile tragedies this year linked to cyberbullying, of the parents who expressed concern about information sharing, 72 percent indicated sexual predators as their primary concern. Only 2 percent listed cyberbullying as their chief worry, falling behind securing job or college placement (10 percent) and product placement (4 percent).

The results were to be reviewed at CSM's Friday roundtable discussion, where FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Anthony Miller were to appear. The roundtable is in conjunction with the unveiling of the CSM's new "Protect Our Privacy—Protect Our Kids" campaign, which will include the release of a new privacy curriculum for teachers and schools around the country.

In a corresponding poll of 401 teens, 44 percent said they believe information they publish online is secure, compared to 56 percent who either did not believe it was, or were unsure. But 79 percent said their friends share too much information online.

Parents also said social networks could do more to protect their children. Three quarters of responding parents in the adult poll rated the job social networks are doing to protect personal information as negative, and 88 percent said they'd support a federal law requiring social networks and search engines to gain user permission before distributing personal information for marketing.

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