American teens savvy to smartphone apps that include location tracking

By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, August 22, 2013 12:03 EDT
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Teachers and students shoot photos and videos with their smartphones in Mooresville, North Carolina, on June 6, 2013. (AFP)
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American teenagers love their smartphone apps, but many are avoiding them, due to fears about privacy and location tracking.

A Pew Research Center survey released Thursday found 58 percent of US teens surveyed have downloaded phone or tablet apps, but half of teen apps users have avoided using some due to privacy concerns.

The survey conducted with the Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society found 26 percent of teenage apps users have uninstalled an application because they found out it was collecting personal information they did not want to share.

Nearly half of the apps users have turned off location tracking features on their cell phone or in an app because they were worried about the privacy of their information, Pew found.

“Younger teen apps users ages 12-13 are more likely than older teen apps users 14-17 to say that they have avoided apps over concerns about personal information sharing,” the researchers wrote.

“Boys and girls are equally likely to avoid certain apps for these reasons. There are no clear patterns of variation according to the parent’s income, education level or race and ethnicity.”

But the survey found girls are considerably more likely than boys — 59 to 37 percent — to say they have disabled location tracking features.

According to the researchers, teens may be concerned not only about advertisers and companies tracking them, but their own parents as well. A 2009 Pew survey indicated half of parents of teen cell phone owners said they used the phone to monitor their child’s location in some way.

Among American teens, 78 percent have a cell phone and 23 percent of teens have a tablet computer; 82 percent own at least one of these mobile devices.

The report was based on a survey of 668 respondents between the ages of 12 and 17 from July 26 to September 30, 2012.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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