Those of us who have used social media for years and have experience in search query technology often think twice before posting information on the Internet and ask internal questions before publishing. How will this information affect the company I represent? Should this photo be made public? How many individuals will this news post reach? Guidelines that have become second nature to many are increasingly being implemented by teenagers as well, according to a recent study released by Pew Internet.
Overall, more teens are publishing a larger amount of information on the Internet that directly relates to them personally. The Pew study revealed that 91 percent of teens now post a photo of themselves on a social media network or blog – up from 79% in 2006. Other stats show that 76% post the name of their school, 71% give out information on which city or town they’re from, 53% give out an email address and 20 percent publish their cell phone number – all of these are up significantly since 2006.
When it comes to Facebook, the survey shows that 60% of teens set their account profile to “Private” while 56 percent say that it is not difficult at all to manage account settings. The Pew Internet experiment surveyed 802 children ranging from ages 12 to 17, saying that “teens are sharing more information about themselves on social media sites than they have in the past, but they are also taking a variety of technical and non-technical steps to manage the privacy of that information. Despite taking these privacy-protective actions, teen social media users do not express a high level of concern about third-parties (such as businesses or advertisers) accessing their data; just 9% say they are “very” concerned.”
Online Reputation Management Awareness
Also growing along with publication trends is the ability of teens to control or privatize information that is posted on social media sites. Pew Internet states that 59 percent of those questioned have edited or deleted something they posted in the past, while another 53% have deleted comments posted by others on their profile. Another 45% have removed their names from photos that they were tagged in, and 31% claim to have deactivated or deleted an account altogether.
Pew Internet Senior Researcher Mary Madden says, “Far from being privacy indifferent, today’s teens are mindful about what they post, even if their primary focus and motivation is often their engagement with an audience of friends and family, rather than how their online behavior might be tracked by advertisers or other third parties.”
Director of the Youth and Media Project at the Berkman Center Sandra Cortesi provided insight into what the study’s results were. “Our focus group findings revealed complex and often negative feelings about Facebook interactions. Many teens longed for some online place that was free of ‘drama,’ and complex audience management requirements. Instead, some are turning to Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat to avoid these difficult peer dynamics.”
Active Participation In Reputation Management
Researcher Amanda Lenhart also contributed to the report, saying that “teens with larger Facebook networks visit the site more often, share more information about themselves and are friends with a greater variety of people. But these large networks are also associated with greater engagement in reputation management activities, and these youth are more likely to be spreading their social media energies across a broader portfolio of social media sites.”
With new technological aspects being introduced to social media sites on a frequent basis, it is likely that teens (and the rest of us as well) will soon have more privacy tools at how fingertips that will enable us to maintain a tighter reign on managing personal and professional reputations. Large scale data gathering means that the general public may find it necessary to be extremely considerate of long term consequences whenever posting any type of information online.
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