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Pew Study Shows Teens Are Not Shy About Posting Personal Information




We’ve been warning kids for years not to put personal identifiers on the internet. Still, a new study from Pew shows that 71% of teens have mentioned their school name on social media and 20% have posted their cell numbers.

Okay, maybe this is just the paranoid mom talking but these numbers scare me:

pew teens sharing

I’m shocked but not surprised by this chart or anything in Pew’s new study “Teens, Social Media, and Privacy.”

The entire report is more proof that 12-17 year olds are not only comfortable on social media, they’ve learned how to navigate the treacherous waters better than their parents. Look at these numbers:

pew privacy

First off, how interesting is it that the numbers flip from Facebook to Twitter. Privacy obviously isn’t a concern when Tweeting but it’s important on Facebook. I’d be bolstered by that except for the fact that these teens are hiding from the wrong people. They aren’t going private to keep from sharing personal info with a stranger, many are hiding from authority figures.

Female (age 16): “And our SRO [School Resource Officer] Officer [sic], he has information. He can see anything that we do, basically, because he’s part of the police department. And so he’s talked to my friends and I before. And he was like, anything you do, I can pull up. So if y’all tweet about a party, while you’re there, just don’t be surprised when it gets busted.”

How about friending mom or dad?

Male (age 16): “Yeah, [I’ve gotten in trouble for something I posted] with my parents. This girl posted a really, really provocative picture [on Facebook] and I called her a not very nice word [in the comments]. And I mean, I shouldn’t have called her that word, and I was being a little bit too cocky I guess, and yeah, I got in trouble with my parents.”

Male (age 17): “It sucks… Because then they [my parents] start asking me questions like why are you doing this, why are you doing that. It’s like, it’s my Facebook. If I don’t get privacy at home, at least, I think, I should get privacy on a social network.”

Even though they’re concerned about what their folks will see, 70% still said they have friended their parents. But that doesn’t mean they’re sharing everything. More than half the teens surveyed said they were confident in their ability to manage their privacy controls on Facebook. That means that mom might not be seeing half of what junior posts.

The Highs and Lows of Facebook:

Some of the teens in the survey said they have to be on Facebook if they want to be in the loop with their friends. Others mentioned how stressful it can be because you’re putting yourself out there on a regular basis.

Female (age 13): “I feel like over Facebook, people can say whatever they want to. They can message you. And on Instagram you can delete the comment really easily, and you don’t have to live with it, kind of. Whereas Facebook, if they say something mean, it hurts more. I don’t know why it does. And also [Instagram] it’s not public, so people tend to not come off so mean. Because all they really want is for people [to] like their photos.”

But there are still those who have seen the light:

Female (age 16): “I deleted it [my Facebook account] when I was 15, because I think it [Facebook] was just too much for me with all the gossip and all the cliques and how it was so important to be– have so many friends– I was just like it’s too stressful to have a Facebook, if that’s what it has to take to stay in contact with just a little people. It was just too strong, so I just deleted it. And I’ve been great ever since.”

Proving there is life without Facebook. Who knew?

  • emrnitin

    I have a teenager and she and the rest of her classmates have an account of facebook. I guess you cannot really prevent them from using it. As a parent, you’re just there to guide them to watch them carefully but not really controlling them because you would want to know everything that is happening to them even if some of it we don’t really know because they know how to navigate the site more than parents do.

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  • Ben Donahower

    I’m 29, but I might sound a lot older here! What naivety among these teens! ‘Privacy’ on my social networks?! Haha! And it’s certainly within a parent’s rights to monitor this type of activity as well.