Teens, Apps and Privacy

rz-phone-1A new survey by the Pew Research Center takes a fresh look at Teens and Mobile Apps Privacy. Parents should take note.

If you have a teen, as a starting point, you should take a look at which apps your teen has downloaded. I don’t mean a detailed look at which ones, but that isn’t a bad idea. In general, get a feel for what kind and how many there are and whether your kid may be an app junkie. The apps on the home page screen are likely the ones she uses the most.

Next, have a talk with your teen about what she is doing to protect her privacy. When thinking about privacy, consider public vs. private account settings, geolocation settings including checkins and pictures (on or off) and whether she is posting too many self-pictures or too much personal information.

According to the Pew research:

  • 58% of teens have downloaded apps to their phone or tablet
  • 51% of teens have avoided apps due to privacy concerns
  • 26% of teens have deleted an app due to privacy concerns
  • 46% of teens have turned off location tracking on their phone or in-app to avoid being tracked

As far as the concerns listed above, of course we’d like to see accounts set to private (don’t let strangers “friend” you or see your content without your permission), and selfies and personal information be kept to a minimum, especially on public accounts.

Regarding location tracking, let’s refer to one of the Pew stats above. If 46% of teens have taken action to avoid having their location tracked, 54% haven’t. If your daughter checks into Dunkin Donuts every afternoon at 3:30, or all of her selfies are tagged with geolocation data that pinpoints the location of her favorite mall, she is leaving herself open to being tracked down by someone she very much doesn’t want to meet. As a parent, it’s impossible to completely control which apps are downloaded and how the settings are configured. Your teen needs to buy in to the process.

It’s refreshing to see that teens are giving some thought to privacy, and by extension what it means for their safety. As the world becomes more connected you want to be sure that your teen doesn’t become any easier to find.


Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.

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