That's a surprising finding from a new report by Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. While nearly 60 percent of American teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 have downloaded an app on their smartphones or tablets, it appears many of them actually do pay attention to how much information they have to share in return.
Some 26 percent uninstalled an app after discovering it was collecting some of their personal information, and 46 percent say they have disabled location-tracking on their devices due to privacy concerns. Girls lead the anti-location tracking trend, with 59 percent of teen girls turning off the feature, versus 37 percent of boys.
According to the report, the teens are avoiding location-tracking due to concerns that companies would be able to access information on their phones. But another possible explanation may give parents pause: "Some of the people they are concerned about may be their own parents. As early as 2009, the Pew Internet Project found that about half of parents of teen cell phone owners said they used the phone to monitor their child’s location in some way," the report says.
Some 56 percent of younger teens (ages 12 to 14) who use mobile apps avoid some apps after learning they had to share personal information to use it, while 49 percent of older teens (14 to 17) have.
Pew says teens they interviewed in a focus group say they mostly download social media and game apps to their mobile devices, along with music, news, and weather apps.
"In the survey, teens who had at some point sought outside advice about privacy management were considerably more likely than those who had not sought advice to say that they had disabled location tracking features," the report says. "As the Pew Internet Project reported recently, 70% of teen internet users have sought advice from someone else at some point about how to manage their privacy online. Among these 'online privacy advice seekers' who own mobile devices, 50% have turned off the location tracking feature on their cell phone or in an app, compared with 37% of those who have not sought outside advice on ways to manage their privacy online."
The full Pew report is available here for download.
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