Commentary

Teens Don't Mind Advertisers Getting Personal Info

While regulators, legislators and activists wring their hands about social media advertising and privacy issues, one important group -- teenagers, a.k.a. “the future” -- don’t seem to be particularly bothered about it, according to the results of a survey of 802 teens conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project in July-September 2012.

 

Just 9% of teens surveyed by Pew said they are “very concerned” that information they post about themselves might be available to third parties like advertisers and businesses, while 31% said they are “somewhat concerned.” Meanwhile 38% said they are “not too concerned” and 22% said they are “not at all concerned.”

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Unsurprisingly, their parents aren’t nearly so blasé: 81% of parents polled by Pew in connection with the teen survey said they are “very” or “somewhat concerned” -- just about double the proportion of teens who expressed this level of concern; within this group, 46% of parents said they were “very concerned,” or five times the proportion of teens. Only 19% of parents said they were “not too concerned” or “not at all concerned” about their teens’ online privacy.

 

In general teens are sharing more information about themselves than before, Pew found: 91% of teens surveyed said they have posted a photo of themselves online in 2012, up from 79% in 2006, and 71% have posted their school name and where they live, up from 49% and 61%, respectively, in 2006. 53% said they have posted their email address, up from 29% in the previous survey, and 20% have posted their cell phone number, up from just 2% six years ago.

 

In terms of what kind of information they post online, 92% said they share their real name, 84% share their interests, 82% share their birthday, 62% post their relationship status, and 24% have posted video of themselves. 16% have set up their profile to automatically share their location in posts.

 

Teens are certainly aware of privacy issues: 60% of teen Facebook users say they keep their profiles private, and another 25% keep them partially private, allowing friends of friends to see what they post. Girls are more likely to have a completely private profile (70% of girls, versus 50% of boys), and boys are more likely to have a fully public profile (20% of boys, versus 8% of girls). Strategies to maintain privacy also include pruning their networks, with 74% saying they have deleted people from their list of friends, and 58% have blocked people. Inside jokes and cloaked messages (“speaking in code”) are also popular strategies to shield information, with 58% of teens employing these methods. Overall teens are confident in their ability to maintain their privacy: 56% of teens say it is “not difficult at all” to manage privacy, and 33% say it is “not too difficult.”

2 comments about "Teens Don't Mind Advertisers Getting Personal Info".
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  1. Jesus Grana from Independent, May 21, 2013 at 4:37 p.m.

    Very logical results - the one issue I see is that I wouldn't "willy-nilly" project these results as "The future." There are two variables that are not accounted for:
    1. It is human nature to become more "guarded" as responsibilities increase - Not many people are as carefree in their 30's as when they were 15.
    2. Privacy Transparency issues will continue to increase at a faster pace as technology adoption increases - therefore what is "true" today will probably not be "the future"

  2. Mike Bloxham from Magid, May 22, 2013 at 5:50 p.m.

    Interesting stuff. In my experience however, it is difficult to say what this sort of research suggests for the future without a meaningful measure of just how much the respondents understand about what data is captured, how, the uses it is put to, by whom etc.
    In research I've conducted in the past on the subject I've been surprised at how little some of the most sophisticated "digital natives" understand about the gathering and use of data online. In such situations, expressions of sentiment about privacy and what they portend for future behavior can only really be seen as a snapshot in time. To what extent will these attitudes and behaviors evolve as these young consumers become more aware and better informed?

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