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AVG finds seven in ten teenagers don’t know everyone they’ve befriended on social networks

Security firm AVG has published a new report looking at online privacy which shows the considerable amount of regret admitted by some teenagers when it comes to things they have posted online – and the fact that seven in ten teens don't know everyone they have befriended on social media.

The Digital Diaries research, which quizzed some 4,000 teenagers aged between 11 and 16 – not that those under 13 are technically teenagers, but we'll let that slide – found that 28 per cent of teens said they later regretted posting something online.

A third of teens had asked somebody to remove a piece of online content posted about them, either because they didn't like it (in 61 per cent of cases), or because it was overly personal (28 per cent).

18 per cent of those who had wanted content removed said that it was something that their mother posted.

Furthermore, 14 per cent admitted that they'd been asked by someone else to remove content which they had shared on the web.

Related: Third of UK teenagers meet social media 'friends' in person (opens in new tab)

When it came to Facebook and privacy, while 70 per cent claimed to be savvy enough to have changed their settings to make it more difficult for people to find their account, only 29 per cent actually properly knew all their friends on social networks. Doubtless largely due to the fact that these things become a popularity contest, and you can't be seen to have too few "friends"...

Finally, 38 per cent were aware that a family member had looked at their device without permission, and 18 per cent said someone in the family had found private details which they hadn't wanted anyone else to see.

Emily Cherry, Head of Participation at the NSPCC, commented: "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."

Darren Allan

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.