Teens, Social Media, and Privacy

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Thursday, May 23, 2013

Teens, Social Media, and Privacy

According to a new study by Pew Internet, teens are sharing a wide range of information about themselves on social media sites. However, few teens embrace a fully public approach to social media. Instead, they take an array of steps to restrict and prune their profiles, and their patterns of reputation management on social media vary greatly according to their gender and network size.

Pew conducted a survey of 802 teens that examines teens’ privacy management on social media sites, and found that:

• Teens are sharing more information about themselves on social media sites than they did in the past. For the five different types of personal information that Pew measured in both 2006 and 2012, each is significantly more likely to be shared by teen social media users in the most recent survey.

• Teen Twitter use has grown significantly: 24% of online teens use Twitter, up from 16% in 2011.

• 60% of teen Facebook users keep their profiles private, and most report high levels of confidence in their ability to manage their settings.

• Teens are increasingly sharing personal information on social media sites, a trend that is likely driven by the evolution of the platforms teens use as well as changing norms around sharing.
     - 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%.

• Older teen social media users (ages 14-17), are more likely to share certain types of information on the profile they use most often when compared with younger teens (ages 12-13).
     - Photos of themselves on their profile (94% older teens vs. 82% of younger teens)
     - Their school name (76% vs. 56%)
     - Their relationship status (66% vs. 50%)
     - Their cell phone number (23% vs. 11%)

• 16% of teen social media users have set up their profile to automatically include their location in posts.

Source: Pew Internet