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Teens Crave Digital Privacy, Too

Teens Crave Digital Privacy, Too
By Jennifer LeClaire

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Many teens ages 12 to 17 report that they usually figure out how to manage content sharing and privacy settings on their own, but 70 percent 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.
 


Teenagers crave privacy -- and it's no different when it comes to their data. So says a new report from the Pew Research Center.

The group reports that teens with mobile devices have embraced app downloading -- but many teen app users have taken steps to uninstall or avoid apps over concerns about their privacy.

"Location information is considered especially sensitive to teen girls, as a majority of them have disabled location tracking features on cell phones and in apps because they are worried about others' access to that information," Pew reports.

Nail in the Coffin

We asked Electronic Frontier Foundation activist Parker Higgins for his thoughts on the study. He told us the Pew report is another nail in the coffin of the myth that young people don't care about privacy.

"The majority of teen users have avoided apps because of privacy concerns," Higgins said. "That should be a major wake-up call to mobile developers that incorporating privacy by design is not just important to protect the rights of their users, but also for their own bottom line."

Here are some quick statistics to paint a picture: Fifty-eight percent of all teens have downloaded apps to their cell phones or tablet computers and 51 percent of teen app users have avoided certain apps due to privacy concerns.

Meanwhile, 26 percent of teen app users have uninstalled apps because they learned they were collecting personal information that they didn't wish to share. And 46 percent of teen app users have turned off location tracking features on their cell phones or in apps because they were worried about the privacy of their information.

Teens and Social Media Privacy

Many teens ages 12 to 17 report that they usually figure out how to manage content sharing and privacy settings on their own, according to Pew, but 70 percent 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.

The majority of teens who use Facebook set their profiles 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.

"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. "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."
 

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