Study: Teens, parents and online privacy. Can one have privacy on Facebook? Study: Teens, parents and online privacy. Can one have privacy on Facebook?
American teenagers ages 12 to 17 care about their privacy, shows a research conducted by Pew Internet & American Life Project. Even as youth... Study: Teens, parents and online privacy. Can one have privacy on Facebook?
facebook-privacyAmerican teenagers ages 12 to 17 care about their privacy, shows a research conducted by Pew Internet & American Life Project. Even as youth share increasing amounts of information online (and have information about them shared by others), they also take steps to manage what can be seen and who can access it.

“This report asks the questions: Who do teens rely on when working their way through the privacy choices that confront them each time they go online? And when they reach a point where they need outside help, where do teens turn for advice about how to manage their privacy online? These questions have great relevance for those who want to understand who or what influences teens as they make choices about what to share and what not to share online”, commented Pew analysts.

The study also finds the fact that, at some point, 70% of US teens have sought advice from someone else about how to manage their privacy online. When they do seek outside help, teens most often turn to friends, parents or other close family members.

When they do seek advice, teens rely on a range of sources for advice about managing their privacy online, with peers and close relatives being—by a substantial margin—the most common sources to which they turn for this type of information:

  • 42% have asked a friend or peer for advice on managing their privacy online
  • 41% have asked a parent
  • 37% have asked a sibling or cousin
  • 13% have gone to a website for advice
  • 9% have asked a teacher
  • 3% have gone to some other person or resource

Overall, teens with ages between 12-13 are a bit more likely to seek out privacy management advice from any source than are 14-17 year olds (77% of younger teens have done so, compared with 67% of older teens). In looking at the specific people or sources that teens of different ages turn to for this type of advice, younger teens are especially likely to seek out advice from a parent (58% versus 33%) and from a teacher (17% versus 5%) compared with their older peers.

Girls are more likely than boys to have asked for help. In addition, those ages 12 and 13 are more likely than older teens to have asked for help and are more likely to have talked with their parents.

In terms of the privacy settings on their Facebook profiles, the majority of teens set their profile to either fully or partially private—regardless of whether or not they have sought out advice on how to manage their privacy online. However, online privacy advice seekers are more likely to limit what certain friends can see within their own friend networks, while those who have not sought out privacy advice are a bit more likely to say that all of their friends can see the same content.

Privacy advice and Facebook profile settings

The findings are based on a nationally representative phone survey of 802 parents and their 802 teens ages 12-17.

The research was conducted between July 26 and September 30, 2012. In collaboration with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, this report also includes insights and quotes gathered through a series of in-person focus group interviews about privacy and digital media, with a focus on social networking sites (in particular Facebook), conducted by the Berkman Center’s Youth and Media Project between February and April 2013. The team conducted 24 focus group interviews with a total of 156 participants across the greater Boston area, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara (California), and Greensboro (North Carolina).

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