Most Teens Overshare Personal Info Online

If there’s one neologism that encapsulates the weird dynamics of our modern techno-society, it has to be “oversharing,” with its strange combination of cloying therapy-speak (“sharing is caring!”) and dismissive disinterest, all wrapped up in a euphemistic gerund: truly, an awkward word for an awkward age.

But oversharing can have serious consequences, far beyond the occasional awkward pause in conversation, including identity theft. On that note, three out of four teenagers expose themselves to identity theft by oversharing their personal information online via social media and email, according to a survey of 700 teenagers conducted by LifeLock.

The most common types of personal identifying information shared by teenagers include the name of the school they attend (63%), partial (33%) or full date of birth (29%), and partial (23%) or full home address (6%). Only 11% admitted that they share too much information about themselves, while 46% said their friends share too much. And 49% said they do not expect their online behavior to have negative consequences later in life.

Back in June I wrote about a study from McAfee titled “Digital Deceptions,” based on a survey of 2,474 young people (ages 10-23). Overall 86% of the young people surveyed said they had done things their parents would disapprove of online, including sharing an email address (50%), the name of their school (49%), phone number (32%), intimate or personal details like a social security number or who they’re dating (32%), or their home address (11%). What’s more, 51% said they had posted “risky” comments online, and 24% had posted “risky” photos.

The depressing part of the McAfee study was how little parents were aware that their kids were taking risks online: for example, just 17% of the parents surveyed thought their children might be sharing an email address, 31% for the name of their school, 10% for their phone number, 12% for intimate or personal details, and 5% for their home address.

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