Mike Isaac

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Teens Actually Care About Their Mobile Privacy

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photo credit: Steve Crane via photopin cc

When it comes to sharing and safety on the Internet, it turns out that your kids may be more sensible than you think.

More than half of U.S. adolescents aged 12 to 17 have taken steps to avoid downloading certain apps due to privacy concerns, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, with girls being more likely than boys to disable location and tracking features in their downloaded apps.

The study, carried out in conjunction with Harvard’s Berkman Center across a sample size of about 800 teens, found that while a simple majority of teens were indeed downloading apps to their phones or tablets (58 percent), nearly half were so concerned about the amount of data some apps requested that they either turned off some of the most sensitive tracking features (46 percent) or avoided downloading the app altogether (51 percent). And about a quarter of those surveyed actually uninstalled apps after learning that they collected personal data they didn’t want to share.

What’s more, the youngest users of the bunch, 12- and 13-year-olds, were more likely to avoid installing apps that required personal information to use them than the 14-to-17-year-old users in the group.

The study comes as Internet companies increasingly target younger users, an important demographic to the likes of outfits like Facebook, Twitter and even LinkedIn, all of which stand to gain from learning the user habits and preferences of the next generation of teens.

It also comes at a time where social media histories are used more and more often by employers to vet prospective job candidates, potentially a damning thing for those who have errant tweets or unsavory Facebook photos floating around the Internet.

Mind you, the study didn’t say whether kids were being sensible about everything they were sharing after downloading social apps (the category they would most likely install).

Still, it’s good news for concerned parents: Some teens actually believe there is such a thing as oversharing.


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