So much for online privacy: 98% of students are happy to trade their friends' email addresses for free pizza ...

While people may claim to value privacy, their actions suggest otherwise.

A new study found that 98 per cent of students are happy to give away their friend's email address for free pizza.

Previous research has found that 74 per cent of people say that it is 'very important' to them that they be in control of who can access their information.

'Whereas people say they care about privacy, they are willing to relinquish private data quite easily when incentivized to do so,' the researchers wrote.

The study tested 3,108 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) students and was published in the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Half of the students were given an incentive to share a friend's email address in the form of a slice of pizza, while the other half were given no incentive.

Fewer students - 94 per cent - gave up friends' email addresses when not given any incentives.
In the non-incentivised group, six per cent shared fake emails to protect the identities of their friends.

Not giving an email address was not an option in the study.

Internet safety and protection of privacy has become an increasingly pertinent issue in recent years.

Last month parents were urged to make internet security as high a priority for their children as road safety by child safety experts.

The call was issued after a poll of parents with youngsters aged eight to 13 found only one in five frequently discuss how to stay safe online with their children.

A new animation featuring the voice of comedian Catherine Tate was created as part of the Share Aware campaign being run by the UK's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children NSPCC and mobile service provider O2.

Tate, a mother-of-one, said: 'As a parent you teach your child how to cross the road and warn them about "stranger danger".

'But it can be harder to know how to keep them safe online - especially when the speed with which new apps and games appear outwits even the best of us.' 

Claire Lilley, head of child online safety at the NSPCC, said: 'Parents are the first point of call for a child when it comes to staying safe in real life and this is no different when it comes to their online life.

'Talking to your child and exploring their online world with them is the best way to keep them safe, but it can be hard to keep up to speed with the internet and some topics can feel more difficult than others.'

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Michel ColaciComment