A Monash University-led study has found that Victorian teenagers are ignorant of the legal pitfalls of using social media - such as posting explicit photographs of themselves or others online.
The study, which involved more than 1000 students (7 to 10 years) at 17 Victorian schools, also revealed only 1 per cent would ask an adult for advice about dangers online, reports the Age.
It further found social media was almost universal: 95 per cent of students used at least one social networking site and six in 10 updated their profile at least once a day.
And 72 per cent had received unpleasant or unwanted contact from strangers via their online profiles.
But the study found students were often blase about online dangers, with almost 30 per cent believing sites such as Facebook were risk-free.
Parents and teachers also had little awareness of the "potentially serious consequences" young people faced, such as stalking, identity theft and harassment.
The focus on cyber bullying had overshadowed the need to educate young people against breaking laws about privacy, copyright, defamation and distribution of offensive material, the study found.
Students were "really not aware of what the legal risks are", said co-author Melissa de Zwart, associate professor of law at the University of Adelaide.