Pew App Survey: Lack of Privacy Can Turn Off Teens

Approximately half of teenagers who use apps say they have avoided particular apps due to concerns about privacy.

That is according to a just-released 2012 survey from the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project.

It is the project's first study of the degree to which teens avoid, uninstall or disable apps due to privacy concerns.

“Teens are on the front lines of figuring out the complex world of privacy management of on their mobile devices,” the study's lead author, Mary Madden, said in releasing the report. “They realize that cell phones can be used to monitor their whereabouts, and they will avoid apps if they feel like the data requests are unnecessary or excessive.”

The study's key takeaways are:

  1. 51% have avoided some apps for privacy reasons, with younger teens 12-13, more likely to have done so (56%) than older teens (49%), though that is within the margin of error.
  2. 26% have uninstalled an app because it was collecting personal information they didn’t want collected.
  3. 46% have turned off location tracking features on their cell phone or in an app, with girls far more likely to have done so (59%) than boys (37%).

Pew points out that some of the privacy concerns associated with teens turning off tracking may involve their own parents. As far back as 2009, Pew points out, studies showed about half of the parents were cell phones to monitor their child's location.

The results are based on a phone survey of 802 parents and their 802 teens conducted July 26-Sept. 30, 2012. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.