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Teens Tend to Figure Out Privacy Concerns Themselves

Many teens ages 12-17 report that they usually figure out how to manage content sharing and privacy settings on their own. Focus group interviews with teens suggest that for their day-to-day privacy management, teens are guided through their choices in the app or platform when they sign up, or find answers through their own searching and use of their preferred platform.


At the same time, though, a nationally representative survey of teen internet users shows that, at some point, 70% of them 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:


  • 42% have talked to friends or peers
  • 41% have talked to a parent
  • 37% have asked a sibling or cousin
  • 13% have gone to a website for advice
  • 9% have asked a teacher


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. White teens and teens from more affluent households are more likely to have sought advice from a parent, when compared with non-white or less affluent families. Focus group data suggest that low-income youth may be more likely to seek advice from teachers.


“Teens rank themselves as pretty self-sufficient when it comes to managing their online privacy. Most of the time, teens figure out the privacy settings themselves,” said Amanda Lenhart, Senior Researcher and Director of Teens and Technology Research at the Pew Research Center, and an author of the report. “Still, most teens do have moments where they reach out for guidance in managing their online privacy - and when they do, they go to peers and parents.”


The majority of teens who use Facebook 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 somewhat more likely to say that all of their friends can see the same content.


This report is the fourth in a series of reports issued in collaboration with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard.  


Download the Full Report >>  

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