New Pew Study Looks at Teens, Online Privacy and Where Kids Turn for Help

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A report recently published by Pew Internet & American Life Project finds that seven out of 10 kids in the United States have sought advice from others regarding the best ways to ensure online privacy.

Last year, more than 1,600 teens and parents were interviewed in telephone surveys, with Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society conducting several follow-up interviews in California, Massachusetts and North Carolina earlier this year.

According to the report, U.S. teens are nearly as likely to turn to their parents as they are their friends and schoolmates for pointers on managing privacy on the Internet, with 42 percent of respondents turning to peers and 41 percent asking mom or dad for help.

About 37 percent of teenage respondents said they sought privacy tips from either a sibling or a cousin, while about nine percent of respondents said they turned to a teacher for technological assistance.

Researchers said that subjects ages 12 to 13 were likelier to seek out advice regarding privacy management than subjects ages 14 to 17. Younger teens, the report said, were also likelier to turn to a parent or an educator than older teens for assistance.


Three-quarters of girls have sought online privacy management advice, the report said, compared to just two-thirds of boys. Girls were also found to be likelier to turn to a sibling, cousin or friend from school for assistance than young males. In terms of socioeconomics, teens from wealthier and more-educated families were found to be likelier to turn to their parents for privacy help.


Overall, 73 percent of Hispanic teens reported seeking online privacy advice; for white teens, the total was 70 percent, and for African-American teens, 61 percent. Nearly half of white respondents reported asking their parents for assistance, while the number fell to a third for Hispanic teens and just a quarter for black respondents.


“Teens rank themselves as pretty self-sufficient when it comes to managing their online privacy,” Amanda Lenhart, senior researcher and director of Teens and Technology Research at the Pew Research Center, is quoted in a recent press release. “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.”


Photo Credit: Untitled by Riley Alexandra / Flickr (license)