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Study: Kids more careful online than you'd think

Survey: Most kids careful about online privacyOnline bullying is still a big issue, but a new survey finds more young people are careful about posting, e-mailing, blogging and tweeting.

The Online Consumer Safety Survey reached out to kids ages 10 to 17 and their parents for information on their web habits and found they're more careful about their online activities.

Heather Cabot, Yahoo Web Life Editor, said the survey showed parents should give their kids more credit for their online savvy.

Special section: Eye on Parenting

She explained on "The Early Show," "Our survey found that 46 percent of teens have taken down information they regretted putting up, 65 percent of them search their names in search engines on a regular basis - meaning they want to see what other people are writing about them and like to manage their online reputation - (and) 81 percent say they use privacy settings. So they are getting the message, and we, as parents, are doing a good job."

She added, "We should all be excited that the messages are getting through, and I think the fact is, adults, we are using social networking more than we have ever before, so we understand it a lot better than maybe we did five or six years ago at the dawn of all of this stuff."

"Early Show" co-anchor Erica Hill added, "And maybe aren't as intimidated to deal with it and talk to your kids about it."

But what is the best way to talk to your kids about their online life?

Cabot suggests maintaining a dialogue with your kids.

"We have seen an increase in the amount of time parents are spending with their kids talking about all of this stuff," she said. "In the past people were basically talking about predators and worried about your child meeting a stranger online and meeting them in person. Of course, parents are worried about that, but are talking about other things. 'If you post this picture, how does it impact you later on when you're applying for a job.' Sixty percent of parents say they have those discussions with their kids at least once a month."

Cabot added, "We like to say the internet is forever and I think it's a great starting point when you talk to your kids about this stuff."

Cabot also suggests parents perhaps establish a family media agreement.

She said, "There's a website called Common Sense Media.org. They already have an agreement written out for different ages and it essentially establishes your boundaries you know, what are your expectations for your child when they spend time online and what are their expectations for you as you monitor their activities. And it just gives a document to refer back to. Our survey found one in three families are using these right now."

Cabot adds parents should search for your child's name regularly. She said, "Many kids say they are using privacy settings, but they are kind of confusing. So you need to spot-check and make sure you see what other people want to see about your child."

Also, "friend" your child on social networks.

"Tell them why you're doing it," Cabot said. "Actually about half of the kids we surveyed said parents are friends on their social network. It's actually good to have your parent there for back-up. And (if you're your kid's friend online,) be a good friend. Don't post stuff on their wall and don't embarrass them, but be there in case they need you."

And finally, Cabot suggests parents know their child's passwords.

"If you set the stage as soon as you give them those privileges, I think it's necessary and explain to them 'I'm not doing this to snoop on you, I'm doing this because if you need me, I'll be there. If you need me to take a look at something that is making you feel uncomfortable, if I have your password, I can do that.'"

And Hill added, "At the end of the day, you get to set the rules because you're paying for the computer."

Cabot said, "Right!"