How Clever Teens Maintain Their Privacy Online

Aside from simple solutions like temporary Facebook deactivations and diversifying social media platforms, teenagers are also able to hide in plain sight by leaning on abstract methods of communication.

It's one of the unwritten laws of the internet: kids just seem to be better at it than everyone else. Teenagers are able to maneuver through the web with cunning and ease. A recent article in Reason offered some info on the subject, as well as how kids keep their internet business to themselves. They spoke to social media scholar danah boyd (who purposefully uncapitalizes her name), the author of It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, about kids and internet privacy.


As boyd points out, teens use two simple solutions to keep their online business from attracting unwanted eyes. The first is the routine deactivation of their Facebook accounts, taking their information off the public grid for certain time stretches. The second is platform jumping and the diversification of social media outlets. These are easy ways for teens to avoid unwanted attention, especially from that Aunt Norma always sending embarrassing tag requests. Kids don't want to connect with parents or relatives; they want to be left alone when online.

More fascinating is boyd's explanation of "social steganography," a hidden-in-plain-sight vernacular that teens employ to communicate cryptically. 

"The most common way teens find privacy is not by restricting access to content, but by restricting access to meaning. They encode what they're posting using in-jokes, song lyrics, pronouns, and references that outsiders won't recognize."

Take a look at the short article (linked again below) for more information.

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