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Almost One in Three Teenagers has Online Regrets by Age 16

AMSTERDAM and SAN FRANCISCO – November 3, 2014 – The latest Digital Diaries research from AVG Technologies N.V. (NYSE: AVG), the online security company™ for 182 million active users, has found that almost a third of teens (28 percent) say they regret posting something online. The research also found 32 percent have had to ask someone to remove content posted online about them, because they didn’t like it (61 percent) or it was too personal (28 percent).

The global research, which questioned almost 4,000 teenagers aged 11-16 years old on the topic of online privacy, painted an overall picture of a struggle for control. Although 70 percent have changed their settings on Facebook to make it more difficult for people to find them and 71 percent say they understand what online privacy means, only 29 percent say they properly ‘know’ all of their Facebook friends.

Speaking in advance of this week’s Child Helpline International Youth Shadow Conference, which focuses on empowering young people through technology, Emily Cherry, Head of Participation at the NSPCC, commented on the results.

“Young people obviously want to get the most out of social media by sharing information. But they should be aware that people are not always who they appear to be online and may pose a threat to them. If we don’t act now and help to guide them, in particular around contact with strangers, we could be facing a privacy time bomb. Online is as important to young people as eating. It is the most important part of their world throughout the day. If we don’t get this right, we will be failing to give them the vital protection they need.”

Even at this age, there are signs that teenagers have differing ideas of how much is too much when it comes to sharing online:

  • One fifth of teenagers would talk to a friend about deeply personal things online.
  • Over one in four (28 percent) have talked to a friend or family member whom they felt shared too much.
  • Of those who asked for online content about them to be removed, 18 percent identified their mom as the posting culprit.
  • Almost one in ten felt they shared too much about themselves online (9 percent).
  • 14 percent have been asked by someone else to remove content they have shared online.


“Everyone assumes that just because today’s teenagers grew up with laptops and smartphones, they somehow have an innate understanding of how to keep themselves safe online and how to behave. The reality is that we have all – teenagers included – embraced technology without much question and the result has been the steady erosion of our online privacy,” said Tony Anscombe, Senior Security Evangelist at AVG Technologies.

“In a way, parents are just as guilty of this as their teens. I’ve talked previously about the concept of ‘sharenting’, where parents share content about their children online, creating a digital footprint for them that they have no control over. As a parent of a teenager myself, I believe we must take some of the responsibility for the social impact of new technologies – both by setting a standard for trust and consideration through our own online behavior, and by guiding theirs.”

Also identified by the research was the struggle teens face retaining control of their online profile:

  • Only 12 percent said they had a lock on their bedroom door. By contrast, the majority (78 percent) had put a password on their device – although 70 percent noted that their parents knew some or all of these passwords.
  • Almost two-fifths (38 percent) were aware of a family member looking at their device without permission. A further 18 percent said that someone in their family had found private information on their device they hadn’t wanted anyone to see.


Note to Editors


AVG commissioned an online survey interviewing teenagers between the ages of 11-16 to identify privacy awareness and practices in the following markets; Australia, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. A total of 3,999 carried out the survey during September 2014. The market research company Research Now carried out the fieldwork using their proprietary panels.

Further Resources

More from Tony Anscombe




About AVG Technologies (NYSE: AVG)

AVG is the online security company providing leading software and services to secure devices, data and people.  AVG has over 182 million active users, as of June 30, 2014, using AVG’s products and services including Internet security, performance optimization, and personal privacy and identity protection. By choosing AVG’s products, users become part of a trusted global community that engages directly with AVG to provide feedback and offer mutual support to other customers.

All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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