August 15, 2013 1:40 pm

Many teens figure out online privacy settings by themselves: study

Facebook is now allowing teenagers to share their posts on the social network with anyone on the Internet, raising the risks of minors leaving a digital trail that could lead to trouble.

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TORONTO – The ‘privacy settings’ section of any social networking site can be overwhelming for even the most privacy-conscious user, but a new report shows that many teens are tackling online privacy management on their own.

The study, released Thursday by Pew Internet, found that many teens aged 12 to 17 rely on their own wits to control privacy settings on their social networks – from what photos remain private, to who can send them friend requests.

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Teens relied on their own knowledge of the platform they used to manage day-to-day privacy settings and walked themselves through their choices.

But the report may stir up some concerns for parents of teens, as social networks such as Facebook release more features that make privacy management more difficult.

Facebook’s “Graph Search” feature – which allows users to make hyper-specific searches – recently reignited the conversation about privacy settings because the tool allows users to search for things like photos that friends have tagged you in – which may be outside your privacy settings.

Read More: How  to clean up your Facebook privacy settings

However, the report noted that 70 per cent of teens did “at some point” turn to someone for outside advice about their privacy settings.

Most of those teens said they turned to their friends or peers, or talked to a parent for help; but younger teens – ages 12 and 13 – were more likely to talk to their parents about privacy concerns.

The report also found that the majority of teens who used Facebook had their profiles set to fully, or partially private – but, teens who asked for advice about privacy were more likely to limit what some of their friends could see on their profile.

Pew noted that the research was done due to the ongoing concern among parents and advocates about teen’s privacy management skills.

Read More: Teens unconcerned about third-parties accessing info: study

© 2013 Shaw Media

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