University of Maryland

Parents’ and Teens’ Online Disclosures and Privacy Practices

Note: This project has been archived (2018).

Teenagers are among the heaviest users of communication technologies. Importantly, these digital natives often become immersed in a mediated lifestyle before they have begun thinking or learning about the consequences of their disclosures. There is often a disjoint between teens’ use of social apps and their comprehension of the potential risks of sharing information through them. Rather, they are often given a device like a mobile phone, tablet, or laptop with little to no time spent learning how to safely use these technologies and protect their personal data and they learn what is acceptable from peers.

While many researchers have offered point-in-time accounts of teens’ media habits, there has been a paucity of research trying to unpack (1) how norms of technology use emerge and evolve within teens’ social networks and the influence of peer networks on teens’ digital activities, (2) how teens’ navigate emerging tensions within their social groups when norm violations occur, and (3) how parents and their teen children (re)negotiate privacy rules and boundaries following incidents of turbulence. The present study will address these gaps in the literature and establish ground truth regarding the evolution of teens’ privacy and disclosure behaviors during late adolescence.

The University of Maryland’s IRB approved this study on September 28, 2016. [pdf]

As of summer 2017, the pilot study has closed after two surveys of students (January and July).



  • Recent News

    April  2023: Our qualitative study of power users’ approach to managing their smart home ecosystems was accepted to CSCW 2023 (PDF forthcoming).

    April 2023: Vitak and Zimmer (along with Yaxing Yao & Danny Huang) were awarded a $600k grant from NSF to study privacy mitigations in smart environments.

    March 2023: “When research is the context: Cross-platform user expectations for social media data reuse” was published in Big Data & Society.

    March 2023: “Power, stress, and uncertainty: Experiences with and attitudes toward workplace surveillance during a pandemic” was published in Surveillance & Society.

    March 2023: Vitak & Shilton shared recent PERVADE work on “The Discussion Section” podcast.

    Jan 2023: Vitak gave the keynote at a Privacy Day event at Maquette University (“Reimagining Data Collection and Use in the Age of Smart Devices”).

    Jan 2023: “When Do Data Collection and Use Become a Matter of Concern? A Cross-Cultural Comparison of U.S. and Dutch Privacy Attitudes” was published in IJoC.

    Dec 2022: Vitak gave the closing keynote at the MD Tech Connect conference (“School and Library Programming to Teach Children Basic Privacy and Security Concepts”).