Industry observers like to speculate that teens and young adults don't care about privacy -- at least not to the same extent as older people.
But a new report by the Pew Research Center adds to the growing body of research casting doubt on that theory. The report, released this week, shows that not only do teens try to limit who can see their posts and photos, but that 70% of them have asked for advice about how to do so.
Around four out of 10 (42%) have asked a friend or peer for advice, while 41% have turned to a parent. Who else do teens turn to? Thirty-seven percent ask siblings or cousins for recommendations, while 13% go to Web sites and 9% ask teachers. Those findings come from a recent survey of 802 people between the ages of 12 and 17.The numbers add up to more than 100% because teens often ask more than just one person for advice.
Researchers, who also conducted focus groups, found that some teens say they proactively adjust a site's privacy settings. What's more, some are alert to the possibility that a service could blindside them by tinkering with its default settings. “I think they [Facebook] change them a lot. And they sort of reset or something. So you just have to constantly, you know, update them,” one 13-year-old boy told Pew.
This study isn't the first one to debunk the conventional wisdom that teens don't care about privacy. Several years ago, researcher Danah Boyd reported that some teens go so far as to deactivate their accounts (but not delete them) in order to prevent their profiles from being seen by others. Boyd also reported in 2010 that the virtually all (98%) college students changed Facebook's privacy settings at least once, and that more than half had done so at least four times.