Data Privacy Week: New research shows youth are more concerned about their online privacy than ever

January 24, 2023 - MediaSmarts is releasing new research today, during Data Privacy Week, which shows that youth are more aware than ever of privacy concerns online and want to take steps to protect their own privacy, but they don’t always know how. The research found that:

  • Youth are participating in online spaces more than ever but are also taking more steps to protect their online privacy (compared to our 2013 study).
  • 82% of youth say they don’t share their personal info online, but half don’t use privacy settings and 25% say they don’t know how to use those settings.
  • While most youth (66%) don’t want parents or guardians spying on their conversations online, most (61%) agree parents or guardians should keep track of what their kids are doing online in general and 74% agree family members should be allowed to use apps to track their location.
  • Youth don’t want companies to collect and use their personal data and content: only 6% of youth say their content should be accessible to online companies and only 2% agree that corporations should be allowed to track their location.

These findings are shared in MediaSmarts’ new Privacy and Consent report, the third in a series of reports in the latest phase of Young Canadians in a Wireless World, a national survey of 1,058 youth ages 9 to 17 conducted in Fall 2021.

This report examines how youth share and protect their personal information online; how youth engage with terms of service and use privacy settings; how youth feel about various forms of surveillance online; and how rules and practices in the home can impact their online privacy.

More findings are available here.

“This new research shows that contrary to what some might think, youth are aware of privacy concerns and want to know more about how to protect their online privacy and control their data,” says Dr. Kara Brisson-Boivin, Director of Research at MediaSmarts.

“Young people need support from their parents or guardians who set rules and guidelines about what they can share online and can review privacy settings with them. But youth also want more protection from the unintended consequences of data sharing, more transparency and accountability from online platforms and more control over their personal data through meaningful consent processes and clear and accessible terms of service.”


Privacy and Consent is part of Young Canadians in a Wireless World (YCWW), Canada’s longest running and most comprehensive research study on young people’s attitudes, behaviour and opinions regarding the internet, technology and digital media. Reports based on the Phase IV data are being released from November 2022 to June 2023 on topics including Life Online (November 2022), Encountering Harmful and Discomforting Content (December 2022), Online Meanness and Cruelty, Sexting and Digital Media Literacy.

Phase IV of the Young Canadians in a Wireless World study was possible thanks to funding from CIRA.

MediaSmarts is Canada’s charitable centre for digital media literacy. For over 28 years, MediaSmarts has advanced digital media literacy in Canadian schools, homes and communities.