The Kids Are Alright*

A study of the privacy habits of parents and their teens on social networks

In October 2010 TRUSTe announced the results of a nationwide survey of both parents and their teens investigating their privacy habits and preferences on social networks. We wanted to know a lot of things, like: how often do teens use privacy controls on social networks? Do parents talk to their teens about privacy? Do parents know what their teens are actually up to on social networks? What we found contradicts much of the hype we see claiming that teens today are online exhibitionists who don’t care about privacy. We found instead that a majority of teens use privacy controls on social networks and that most parents actively monitor their teen's privacy. The survey title, "The Kids are Alright*", reflects these positive finding, however the asterisk in the title indicates that there is still room for improvement as we identified some privacy areas where teens are at risk on social networks.

Teen Privacy Guide
Parent Guide

Key findings from our survey include:

  • 80 percent of parents and 78 percent of teens feel in control of their personal information on social networking sites;
  • 84 percent of parents are confident their teen is responsible with personal information on a social networking site;
  • 72 percent of parents surveyed monitor their teens’ accounts, with 50 percent of these parents monitoring weekly, 35 percent daily and 10 percent monthly; and,
  • 84 percent of parents are accurate in understanding the amount of time their teen spends on social networks and generally have a good understanding of the activities they are engaged in online
  • 18 percent of teens have been embarrassed or disciplined as a result of a posting;
  • 80 percent of teens use privacy settings at some point to hide content from certain friends and/or parents; and,
  • 68 percent of teens surveyed have at some time accepted friend invites from people they don’t know, with 8 percent accepting all, 34 percent accepting some, and 26 percent accepting rarely.

Additional Links:

Press Release
Executive Summary Deck
Full Survey Results Deck

Fran Maier talks about teens, privacy and key insights from the survey.

teens talk about privacy
Teens talk about online privacy. 

Parents talk about keeping their kids safe online. 

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About Truste

TRUSTe is the leading global Data Privacy Management (DPM) company and powers trust in the data economy by enabling businesses to safely collect and use customer data across their customer, employee, and vendor channels. Our SaaS-based DPM Platform gives users control over all phases of data privacy management from conducting assessments and implementing compliance controls to managing ongoing monitoring. Our DPM Services, including assessments and certifications, are delivered by an expert team of privacy professionals. Thousands of companies worldwide rely on TRUSTe to minimize compliance risk and protect their brand.