In collaboration with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, this report includes quotes gathered through a series of exploratory in-person focus group interviews about privacy and digital media, with a focus on social media sites, conducted by the Berkman Center’s Youth and Media Project between February and April 2013. The team conducted 24 focus group interviews with a total of 156 participants across the greater Boston area, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara (California), and Greensboro (North Carolina) beginning in February 2013. Each focus group interview lasted 90 minutes, including a 15-minute questionnaire completed prior to starting the interview, consisting of 20 multiple-choice questions and 1 open-ended response.
Although the research sample was not designed to constitute representative cross-sections of particular population(s), the sample includes participants from diverse ethnic, racial and economic backgrounds. Participants ranged in age from 11 to 19. The mean age of participants is 14.5. Groups of three to eight participants were divided into age cohorts of 11-14, 14-16, and 16-19 for interviews. Females comprised 55% of participants, males 41%, and 4% chose not to reply. Half of the focus group participants (50%) were Hispanic, Latino, or of Spanish origin; 33% were white; 13% were black or African-American; 2% were Asian or Asian-American; 1% were American Indian or Alaskan Native; and 1% self-identified as other. Although we tried to assess participants’ socioeconomic status based on self-identification of their parents’ highest educational achievement, too many participants indicated uncertainty or no knowledge of this to allow for confidence in this metric. However, as we recruited from schools serving students primarily of lower socio-economic status in Los Angeles and Boston, we estimate that at least half of our sample draws from underserved populations.
In addition, two online focus groups of teenagers ages 12-17 were conducted by the Pew Internet Project from June 20-27th, 2012 to help inform the survey design. The first group was with 11 middle schoolers ages 12-14, and the second group was with 9 high schoolers ages 14-17. Each group was mixed gender, with some racial, socio-economic and regional diversity. The groups were conducted as an asynchronous threaded discussion over three days using the Qualboard platform and the participants were asked to log in twice per day. All references to these findings are referred to as “online focus groups” throughout the report.