Teens Are the Web 2.0 Privacy All-Stars: Moms and Dads: Ask Your Teens for Lessons in the Social Networking Facts of Life
A recent Pew Internet and American Life study of online privacy revealed that, when it comes to safeguarding personal information at popular social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, teens are light years ahead of their parents.
Just 40 percent of teens (as compared to 60 percent of adults) choose to make their user profile visible to anyone who happens to stumble across their personal information.
Likewise, 59 percent of teens (as compared to just 38 percent of adults) choose to limit access to their profile visible to "friends only."
Because teens spend so much time at social networking sites, they have mastered the various privacy-related features and options that allow them to control who has access to their online world.
This is a valuable skill to have at a time when 53 percent of Internet users report using Internet search engines to dig up background information about personal or professional contacts. A 2006 Pew Internet and American Life survey found that
* 36 percent of adult Internet users search for information about people they have lost touch with (that lost love or former best friend from high school)
* 26 percent look for information about friends
* 23 percent see what they can find out about family members
* 19 percent try to get the lowdown on colleagues or business competitors
* 17 percent research their neighbors, 12 percent for information about someone they are about to meet, 11 percent for information about someone they are about to meet, and 9 percent for information about someone they are dating.
Source: Digital Footprints, Pew Internet and American Life Project, December 16, 2007.
So despite all those doom-and-gloom reports that made the rounds a few years back, it sounds as if our teens are doing alright online. In fact, they're doing more than alright: they can teach us a few things about safeguarding our privacy online.
Do you talk to your teens and your younger children about issues like online privacy and the digital footprint (the types of information that they create and leave behind when they are online)?