Common Sense and SurveyMonkey Poll Finds "Privacy Matters" for Parents and Teens on Social Media

Key Findings: Nine in 10 Parents and Teens Think It's Important That Sites Clearly Label What Data They Collect and How It Will Be Used; Sixty-Nine Percent of Parents and 77 Percent of Teens Say It's Extremely Important for Sites to Ask Permission Before Selling or Sharing Their Personal Information.

SAN FRANCISCO – Common Sense, the national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids and families thrive in the digital world, and SurveyMonkey, the world's leading people-powered data platform, released the results of a new survey of parents of teens on the subjects of privacy and social media sites.

Key findings of the survey include:

More than nine in 10 parents and teens think it's important that sites clearly label what data they collect and how it will be used.

The majority of teens (69 percent) and parents (77 percent) say it is "extremely important" for sites to ask permission before selling or sharing their personal information. The vast majority (97 percent of parents and 93 percent of teens) agree that this is at least "moderately" important.

Very few people think sites do a good job of explaining what they do with users' information. Only a third of teenagers (36 percent) and a quarter of parents (25 percent) agree that social networking sites and apps do a good job of explaining what they do with users' data.

Most parents and teens are concerned about ad targeting by social media sites. ​Eighty-two percent of parents and 68 percent of teens are at least "moderately" worried that social networking sites use their data to allow advertisers to target them with ads.

Both parents and teens have taken steps to address their privacy. About eight in 10 teens (79 percent) have changed their privacy settings on a social networking site to limit what they share with others. Slightly more parents (86 percent) say they have done the same for their own privacy settings.

Common Sense and SurveyMonkey teamed up for a series of studies that can help identify concerns and keep a finger on the pulse of how parents and teens are feeling about their digital world. Common Sense shares these findings with the tech industry, educators, policymakers, and consumers so steps can be taken to better protect kids in our ever-changing, "always-on" digital world.

James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense, stated, "These findings confirm that privacy still matters to parents and teens who are using social media sites. We are encouraged to see so many of the respondents taking action to proactively protect their privacy online. But there is a lot more work to do, and we hope these findings will help push the tech industry and policymakers toward meaningful privacy regulations."

Jon Cohen, chief research officer at SurveyMonkey, said, "Given widespread uncertainty and nonstop coverage about how personal data is being used, it should come as no surprise that we are seeing such high levels of concern about privacy on social media sites from both parents and teens. Listening to customer — and future customer — voices and concerns identified with the help of these studies can certainly help businesses better address them."

The survey can be viewed in its entirety here.


This SurveyMonkey online poll was conducted May 5 to 22, 2018, among a national sample of 19,063 adults, including 3,222 parents with children between 13 and 17 years old, and 985 teenagers age 13 to 17. Respondents for this survey were selected from the nearly 3 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. The modeled error estimate for this survey is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points among parents of teenagers, and 3.5 percentage points among teens. Data have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States of people age 18 and over.

About SurveyMonkey

Founded in 1999 and based in San Mateo, California, SurveyMonkey is the world's leading people-powered data platform enabling curious individuals and companies — including 100 percent of the Fortune 500 — to have conversations at scale with the people who matter most. Whether it's a trend in the market, opinions of customers, or voices of employees, SurveyMonkey turns them into actionable data. As a pioneer of the industry, SurveyMonkey is a trusted platform for people to express their true feelings and opinions so organizations can uncover the "why" behind the data. SurveyMonkey's 750-plus employees throughout North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific are dedicated to powering the curious. For more information about SurveyMonkey, please visit

About Common Sense

Common Sense is committed to making kids the nation's top priority. We are a trusted guide for the families, educators, and advocates who help kids thrive. We provide resources to harness the power of media, technology, and public policy to improve the well-being of every child. Learn more at

SurveyMonkey press contact:
Teresa Brewer

Common Sense press contacts:
Corbie Kiernan

Lisa Cohen