Teens, Social Media, and Privacy

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-Full report-

Author(s): Pew Research Center and The Berkman Center for Internet and Society

  • Mary Madden - Senior Researcher, Pew Internet Project
  • Amanda Lenhart - Senior Researcher, Director of Teens and Technology Initiatives, Pew Internet Project
  • Sandra Cortesi - Fellow, Director of the Youth and Media Project, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  • Urs Gasser - Executive Director, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  • Maeve Duggan - Research Assistant, Pew Internet Project
  • Aaron Smith - Senior Researcher, Pew Internet Project
  • Meredith Beaton - Research Assistant, Youth and Media Project, Berkman Center for Internet & Society

Published: May 21st, 2013

Report Intro/Brief:
"Teens are sharing more information about themselves on social media sites than they have in the past, but they are also taking a variety of technical and non-technical steps to manage the privacy of that information. Despite taking these privacy-protective actions, teen social media users do not express a high level of concern about third-parties (such as businesses or advertisers) accessing their data; just 9% say they are “very” concerned.

Key findings include:

Teens are sharing more information about themselves on their social media profiles than they did when we last surveyed in 2006:

  • 91% post a photo of themselves, up from 79% in 2006.
  • 71% post their school name, up from 49%.
  • 71% post the city or town where they live, up from 61%.
  • 53% post their email address, up from 29%.
  • 20% post their cell phone number, up from 2%.

60% of teen Facebook users set their Facebook profiles to private (friends only), and most report high levels of confidence in their ability to manage their settings.

  • 56% of teen Facebook users say it’s “not difficult at all” to manage the privacy controls on their Facebook profile.
  • 33% Facebook-using teens say it’s “not too difficult.”
  • 8% of teen Facebook users say that managing their privacy controls is “somewhat difficult,” while less than 1% describe the process as “very difficult.”

These findings are based on a nationally representative phone survey run by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project of 802 parents and their 802 teens ages 12-17. It was conducted between July 26 and September 30, 2012. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish and on landline and cell phones. The margin of error for the full sample is ± 4.5 percentage points."
-from Pew's overview of the report