Online Privacy

The Youth and Media team seeks to achieve a deep and empirically grounded understanding of how youth think about and act on privacy and information sharing online.

By using mixed methods such as literature reviews, focus group interviews, and surveys,  we seek to build a more nuanced understanding of youths’ conception of privacy, how this conception may differ from an adult perspective, and how it is reflected in the kinds of activities youth engage online.

Working towards these goals, the Youth and Media team collaborated with Pew Internet Research on an initial report called “Parents, Teens, and Online Privacy”. The data shows that most parents of teenagers are concerned about what their teenage children do online and how others could monitor this behavior. While some parents connect with their children on social media platforms in order to passively observe them, many actively engage with their children online and make their presence known. Teens, in turn, have mixed feelings about being friends with their parents on Facebook and other sites. Some youth like the fact that they are friends with their family members. Other young users prefer not to friend their parents, but do so anyway because it is expected of them. Yet others keep their profiles secret or restrict parents’ access to their information.

Access the full report here.

Want to know how teens feel about being friends with their parents on Facebook? Watch a fun video made by our 2012 summer interns.

Part I

Part II

Based on the findings from this initial report, the Youth and Media team engaged in a second series of focus group interviews with youth as well as a questionnaire to better understand youths’ behavior and attitudes towards privacy.

The findings of the study are detailed in the following reports:

  • “Teens, Social Media and Privacy”. Access the full report here.
  • “Where Teens Seek Online Privacy Advice”. Access the full report here.

These reports are again the result of a collaboration between the Pew Internet Project and the Berkman Klein Center. The reports presents data from a nationally representative survey as well as insights and quotes from focus groups.

Moving forward, the Youth and Media team is engaging in several initiatives, including one on student privacy. The student privacy initiative analyzes the potential cloud computing technologies offer for schools and how educators and students can shape, improve, and expand their learning experiences with new cloud based platforms and tools.

For more information about our student privacy initiative, visit Berkman Klein’s Student Privacy Initiative site.

Additional questions the Youth and Media Team is engaging in:

  • What concepts equivalent to ‘privacy’ are embedded in how youth use social media?
  • What kinds of activities do youth engage in when they are online and how do they control the information they post on websites, and more specifically, on social media platforms?
  • Who do youth primarily interact with when they’re online? How do youth view relationships with adults and with their peers online?
  • How do youth perceive and respond to Internet restrictions their schools and/or parents might have put in place?
  • How do youth perceive and respond to online ads?
  • How can we foster a grounded discussion about what technologies—and which associated policies—would be most useful and appropriate, particularly in the educational context?
  • Report: Teens and Technology 2013
  • Report: Teens and Mobile Apps Privacy
  • Highlights from Focus Groups
  • Report: Teens, Social Media, and Privacy
  • Report: Parents, Teens, and Online Privacy
  • Report: Where Teens Seek Online Privacy Advice