Survey: Teen Mobile App Users Concerned About Privacy, Safety

A new survey of US teensagers conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International reveals that majority of teens who are using mobiles or tablets are worried about their privacy. The 2012 Teens and Privacy Management Survey shows that 51% of teen app users have avoided certain apps due to privacy concerns.

The survey, which was sponsored by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, found that many teen apps users have taken steps to uninstall or avoid apps over concern about their privacy.

Location information is considered especially sensitive to teen girls, as a majority of them have disabled location tracking features on cell phones and in apps because they are worried about others’ access to that information, according to the survey report.

The survey also found that 58% of all teens have downloaded apps to their cell phone or tablet computer. And while 51% of teenagers have avoided certain apps, 26% of teen apps users have uninstalled some because they learned it was collecting personal information that they did not wish to share, according to the study.

Also, the report found that 46% of teen apps users have turned off location tracking features on their cell phone or in an app because they were worried about the safety of their information.

According to Zach Miners of PC World, the survey did not call out specific app makers like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or Tumblr. “But privacy is today one of the crucial issues faced by those companies, as consumers question the level of information sites are able to gather about them.”

The survey, which was based on telephone interviews with 802 US teenagers aged 12 to 17 and their parents, did not focus exclusively on social apps. According to the report, girls are more likely than boys to say they have turned off location tracking. The survey found that 59% of teenage girls have disabled location tracking compared with just 37% of boys.

While they are concerned about companies’ use of their information, some teenagers may be just as concerned about their parents’ access, report authors suggested. In 2009, Pew found that about half of parents of teenage cell phone users used the phone to monitor their child’s location in some way. The survey’s findings come as Internet companies like Facebook and Twitter continue to enhance their sites in an effort to keep users engaged, including teenagers.