Report: Teens and Mobile Apps Privacy

WASHINGTON – (August 22, 2013) – As teens gain access to mobile devices, they have embraced app downloading. But many teen apps users have taken steps to uninstall or avoid apps over concern about their privacy. Location information is considered especially sensitive to teen girls, as a majority of them have disabled location tracking features on cell phones and in apps because they are worried about others’ access to that information.

Here are some of the key findings in a new survey of U.S. teens ages 12-17:

  • 58% of all teens have downloaded apps to their cell phone or tablet computer.
  • 51% of teen apps users have avoided certain apps due to privacy concerns.
  • 26% of teen apps users have uninstalled an app because they learned it was collecting personal information that they didn’t wish to share.
  • 46% of teen apps users have turned off location tracking features on their cell phone or in an app because they were worried about the privacy of their information.

Access the full report here.

About the Survey

These findings are based on a nationally representative phone survey of 802 parents and their 802 teens ages 12-17. It was conducted between July 26 and September 30, 2012. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish and on landline and cell phones. The margin of error for the full sample is ± 4.5 percentage points. In collaboration with the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, this report also includes insights and quotes gathered through a series of in-person focus group interviews about privacy and digital media, with a focus on social networking sites (in particular Facebook), conducted by the Berkman Klein Center’s Youth and Media Project between February and April 2013. The team conducted 24 focus group interviews with a total of 156 participants across the greater Boston area, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara (California), and Greensboro (North Carolina).

About the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project is one of seven projects that make up the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. The Project produces reports exploring the impact of the Internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life. The Project aims to be an authoritative source on the evolution of the Internet through surveys that examine how Americans use the Internet and how their activities affect their lives.

Media contacts

Mary Madden: and 202-419-4515
Amanda Lenhart: and 202-419-4514

Infographic: Mount Empowermore

During the summer of 2012, two summer interns created the infographic Mount Empowermore. This infographic touches on many of the strands of current research by the Youth and Media team: empowerment, community issues, and online relationships. By highlighting the contributions of other teens, the interns hoped to inspire and empower others to contribute to their own communities.

Download full size image.

Social-Emotional Learning & Online Relationships Modules

Based on previous research efforts and Lab activities, the Youth and Media team has made great strides building a curriculum focusing on social/emotional learning, and, in particular, online relationships.

So far, the young members of the lab together with the core Youth and Media team have developed three modules about Social-Emotional Learning & Online Relationships:

1. Creativity in Online Spaces

The module considers the value of creativity both online and offline, as well as the connection between creativity and science. Participants are encouraged to reflect on the relationship between creativity in their online practices and their interests in science and technology. This can done by reflecting on who they are, what they do online, and how creativity plays a role to each of these. Finally, participants produce analog or digital media designed to motivate or inspire others to pursue science, technology, education, and math (STEM).

Creativity in Online Spaces – PDF

Creativity in Online Spaces – PPT

Creativity in Online Spaces Handouts – DOC

2. Healthy Relationships Online

For today’s youth, the intricacies of online interaction can significantly impact their relationships. This module explores the topic of healthy relationships and emotional wellbeing among youth in relation to their technology use. Additionally, this module targets youth who work as peer leaders, trainers, mentors, etc., (“youth ambassadors”), and encourages them to think critically about this topic. The participants are also encouraged to identify ways of promoting positive bystanding (or, “upstanding”) among their peers, which include actions like discouraging bullying acts, offering their peers support, and openly communicating about issues that arise in a personal and school context.

Healthy Relationships Online – PDF

Healthy Relationships Online – PPT

3. Perspective

Media can be a powerful means for presenting audiences with different perspectives. In this module, participants explore what perspective is and what influences and shapes it. In particular, they consider the roles of empathy and the ability to understand others’ perspectives in the process of creating and sharing powerful media about social or community issues.

Perspective – PDF

Perspective – PPT

If you would like to know more about our modules, please feel free to send us ( an email anytime. We are happy to provide you with additional information and/or share the actual modules with you.


Workshop with the TechGirls: Creativity in Online Spaces, July 7th, 2012, Washington, D.C.

For its first peer teaching/learning workshop of Summer 2012, the YaM Lab team also took its first trip of the summer. The team left Cambridge for Washington, D.C. to meet the 25 participants of the TechGirls program after much anticipation. TechGirls is a State Department initiative and international exchange program designed to empower young girls to pursue careers in the science and technology sectors, and which works with girls who excel in and are passionate about science and tech. Although the Lab is itself, at times, a place of international and cross-cultural exchange, the exchange session with the girls from 10 different countries in the Middle East and North Africa offered much to explore and share in the zone of online creativity, kindness, and empowerment. During the workshop, the team tested out the first original curricular module developed over the summer, Creativity in Online Spaces. You can read about the experience from the State Department, too.