Are Teens Better at Managing Mobile Privacy?

May 22, 2013 15:18:22Posted by John Skorick, MyAKA Founder & CEO

Are Teens Better at Managing Mobile Privacy?

Many of today's teenagers don't remember a time without the Internet. They've grown up using Google searches in the classroom, and only know a world in which you can text pictures to friends with just a few taps. Because they've been surrounded by modern technology since they were kids, it's possible that they have a better grip on mobile security than their parents. However, while teens may be better equipped to understand privacy policies, they're also more likely to share personal information on the web, according to a new poll from the Pew Research Center.

Teens in the Spotlight
Researchers at the Pew Center were interested in examining the state of teen social media usage today. They designed a study that asked young people about their Internet and mobile device usage as well as their attitudes toward sharing information and protecting online privacy. More than 800 parents and their teenagers (ages 12 to 17) participated in phone surveys and focus groups to help determine the outcome of the study.

Researchers asked questions about what teenagers were willing to post on their social media pages. Not surprisingly, 91 percent said they share photos of themselves, an increase from 79 percent in 2006.

While sharing photos is a common practice on websites like Facebook and Google+, the study also found that teens are willing to share alarmingly personal information on their profiles. Around 71 percent post their school name, and the same amount said they put up the city or town where they live. More than half will post their email address, and shockingly 20 percent post their cell phone numbers.

An Opportunity for Parents
Part of the reason why teens may be so willing to share this personal information is because they feel they have a grasp on how to best control their privacy. Around 56 percent of respondents said that Facebook privacy is "not difficult at all" to manage, and only 1 percent said it was "very difficult."

The results of this study make it clear that parents need to make sure that their youngsters are using Facebook, Twitter and other social media services safely. One way to start this conversation is to ask teens to demonstrate their mobile privacy prowess. Parents can have their kids show them how to manage safety and security on Facebook (Mom and Dad may actually learn a thing or two) and then ask their teen about what sort of information he or she is posting on such sites. It's important that parents remind their kids to never share personal information such as addresses or phone numbers on Facebook or similar sites, even if the teens are certain their profiles are 100 percent private.

If teens insist on listing such information, moms and dads can equip their kids with an additional phone number that can easily be deleted and replaced if it falls into the wrong hands.

In any event, parents must remind their youngsters that there is no such thing as complete privacy when it comes to the World Wide Web.