PEW Report: Teens Getting Smart about Online Privacy

A new PEW report strongly suggests that teens are pretty savvy about their online privacy.

A new Pew American Internet and Life Project report is available: Teens, Privacy and Online Social Networks: How teens manage their online identities and personal information in the age of MySpace.

This report has several interesting findings. What struck me is that teens seem to really understand the subtleties of their online presence. One teen was quoted as saying he ups his profile age so that others will treat him differently:

“I use a pseudonym, who is 24. Because I regard myself as an intellectual, it’s easier to be taken seriously if people don’t know they’re talking to a 16 year old. You’d be surprised what respect 8 years buys you.

More generally, however, teens know how to protect themselves in terms of what information they reveal to others.

Here’s the overview from the report:

  1. 55% of online teens have profiles online; 45% of online teens do not have profiles online.
  2. Among the teens who have profiles, 66% of them say that their profile is not visible to all internet users. They limit access to their profiles in some way.
  3. Among those whose profiles can be accessed by anyone online, 46% say they give at least a little and sometimes a good deal of false information on their profiles. Teens post fake information to protect themselves, but also to be playful or silly.
  4. Most teens are using the networks to stay in touch with people they already know, either friends that they see a lot (91% of social networking teens have done this) or friends that they rarely see in person (82%).
  5. 49% of social network users say they use the networks to make new friends.
  6. 32% of online teens have been contacted by strangers online – this could be any kind of online contact, not necessarily contact through social network sites.
  7. 21% of teens who have been contacted by strangers have engaged an online stranger to find out more information about that person (that translates to 7% of all online teens).
  8. 23% of teens who have been contacted by a stranger online say they felt scared or uncomfortable because of the online encounter (that translates to 7% of all online teens).

There’s a lot more in the report. I highly recommend reading it.

Teens, Privacy and Online Social Networks: How teens manage their online identities and personal information in the age of MySpace

Published: May 1st, 2007

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