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STUDY: Tweens & Teens Overshare Online

Two girls (8-12) sitting in arm chairs, using mobile phones
Photograph by Getty Images

Parents, do you know what your kids are doing online? Since 2006, when the Pew Internet & American Life Project presented its last report, tweens and teens have shown huge increases in the amount of personal information they share online through social media profiles. Though they do take some actions to protect their info, only 9% are "very concerned" about third-party access (like businesses and advertisers) to it. Below, some of the key data:

91% (up from 79% in 2006) share personal photos

71% (up from 61%) share their city or town

71% (up from 49%) share their school name

53% (up from 29%) share their email address

20% (up from 2%) share their cell phone number

One number that might (might) help you rest a little easier: 60% of 12- to 17-year-olds have private profiles, while only 14%'s are entirely public. That said... 33% also are "friends" with people they've never met in person.

The kids' quotes, though, are perhaps the most telling. It may not be the "bad guys" or "strangers" that are the scariest audience, but their actual friends.

“OK, so I do post a good amount of pictures, I think. Sometimes it's a very stressful thing when it comes to your profile picture. Because one should be better than the last, but it's so hard. So… I will message them a ton of pictures. And be like which one should I make my profile? And then they'll help me out. And that kind of takes the pressure off me. And it's like a very big thing.” -a 14-year-old girl

“I feel like over Facebook, people can say whatever they want to. They can message you. And on Instagram you can delete the comment really easily, and you don't have to live with it, kind of. Whereas Facebook, if they say something mean, it hurts more. I don't know why it does. And also [Instagram] it's not public, so people tend to not come off so mean. Because all they really want is for people [to] like their photos.” -a 13-year-old girl

“I think Facebook can be fun, but also it's drama central. On Facebook, people imply things and say things, even just by a like, that they wouldn't say in real life." -a 14-year-old girl

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