When it comes to Privacy, Teenagers Aren’t as Dumb as You Think

teens smartphonesTake a minute to consider what you think about when you hear the words “teenagers and online privacy.” Chances are, when you hear or read those words together in a sentence you think less-than-flattering things about our younger folk and their internet activity. After all, teenagers are not exactly world renowned for their impulse control or forethought.

According to NBC News, however, we are all wrong about teenagers and their knowledge of how to protect their privacy online.

The Data

The Pew Internet Project released a new report entitled “Teens and Mobile Apps Privacy,” which determined that more than half of all teenagers have elected not to download certain mobile applications due to “privacy concerns.”

Here is a quick breakdown of the study’s findings:

  • 58% of all teens have downloaded mobile apps to a phone or tablet.
  • 51% of teenage app consumers have consciously avoided downloading certain apps due to privacy concerns.
  • 26% of teens have uninstalled apps after discovering that they were sharing “personal information that they didn’t wish to share.”
  • 46% of teens have turned off their phone or tablet’s location-tracking features “because they were worried about the privacy of their information.”
  • When compared to boys, teenage girls are far more likely to disable location-tracking features, 59% compared to 37%.

Parents Rejoice! Or Not?

You would think that these findings would be cause for much parental excitement – after all, teaching kids that they should protect themselves online is a good thing, right? Wrong. Some parents are actually concerned about these findings because it may make it more difficult for them to track their children.

NBC and Pew explain:

‘Some of the people’ teens might be concerned about being tracked by are — perhaps not surprisingly — ‘their own parents,’” Pew noted. “As early as 2009, the Pew Internet Project found that about half of parents of teen cellphone owners said they used the phone to monitor their child’s location in some way.”

To my mind, parents should be pleased that their children know enough to disable location-tracking features on Facebook, Instagram and other applications. Sure, parents may have to deal with the fact that they can no longer track their child’s every move, but they can take comfort in the fact that nobody will be able to track their child’s every move.

Have you turned off location-tracking features on your smartphone? Have you talked to your children about how to protect themselves online?

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A teacher by trade, Elizabeth LaBelle graduated with honors from the University of Michigan in 2011. After specializing in Political Science and Francophone Studies with a minor in Korean, the only tangible skill she can show for it is the ability to write in all three languages. Elizabeth never thought she would get paid to write in any language – but after four years washing dishes in an industrial kitchen and a year selling office supplies door-to-door, nothing surprises her. When she’s not writing or teaching, Elizabeth coaches high school debate and forensics. Her hobbies include thoroughbred racing, competitive pool playing and hunting for the perfect Chicago apartment.

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