According to a recent PewResearch study about teens’ privacy management on social media sites, they share a wide range of information about themselves on social media sites, but few teens embrace a fully public approach to social media. They restrict and prune their profiles, and their patterns of reputation management on social media vary greatly according to their gender and network size.
Teens are cognizant of their online reputations, and take steps to curate the content and appearance of their social media presence. For many teens who were interviewed for this report, Facebook was seen as an extension of offline interactions and the social negotiation and maneuvering inherent to teenage life. “Likes” specifically seem to be a strong proxy for social status, such that teen Facebook users will manipulate their profile and timeline content in order to garner the maximum number of “likes,” and remove photos with too few “likes.”
Among key findings about Teens from the report are:
A typical teen’s Facebook profile has become a hallmark of teenage life today, and is quite different from the 2006 version of MySpace. The five different types of personal information measured in both 2006 and 2012 are significantly more likely to be shared by teen social media users on the profile they use most often:
And five new questions about the profile Teens use most often found that among teen social media users:
Generally speaking, older teen social media users (ages 14-17,) are more likely to share certain types of information on the profile they use most often when compared with younger teens (ages 12-13). Older teens who are social media users more frequently share:
While boys and girls generally share personal information on social media profiles at the same rates, cell phone numbers are a key exception. Boys are significantly more likely to share their numbers than girls (26% vs. 14%), a difference that is driven by older boys. Various differences between white and African-American social media-using teens are also significant, with the most notable being the lower likelihood that African-American teens will disclose their real names on a social media profile (95% of white social media-using teens do this vs. 77% of African-American teens).
Twitter draws a far smaller crowd than Facebook for teens, but its use is rising. One in four online teens uses Twitter in some way. While overall use of social networking sites among teens has hovered around 80%, Twitter grew in popularity; 24% of online teens use Twitter, up from 16% in 2011 and 8% the first time this question was included in late 2009.
While those with Facebook profiles most often choose private settings, Twitter users, by contrast, are much more likely to have a public account.
In focus groups, many teens expressed waning enthusiasm for Facebook. They dislike the increasing number of adults on the site, get annoyed when their Facebook friends share inane details, and are drained by the “drama” that they described as happening frequently on the site. The stress of needing to manage their reputation on Facebook also contributes to the lack of enthusiasm. Nevertheless, the site is still where a large amount of socializing takes place, and teens feel they need to stay on Facebook in order to not miss out.
Teen management of their profiles can take a variety of forms – we asked teen social media users about five specific activities that relate to the content they post and found that:
Given the size and composition of teens’ networks, friend curation is also an integral part of privacy and reputation management for social media-using teens. The practice of friending, unfriending, and blocking serve as privacy management techniques for controlling who sees what and when. Among teen social media users:
Teens who are somewhat or very concerned that some of the information they share on social network sites might be accessed by third parties like advertisers or businesses without their knowledge, delete comments, untag themselves from photos or content, and deactivate or delete their entire account. Among teen social media users, those who are “very” or “somewhat” concerned about third party access are more likely to:
In broad measures of online experience, more than half of online teens (57%) say they have decided not to post something online because they were concerned it would reflect badly on them in the future. Teen social media users are more likely than other online teens, who do not use social media, to say they have refrained from sharing content due to reputation concerns (61% vs. 39%).
For more information from Pew, and to access the complete report, please visit here..