Older adolescents' views regarding participation in Facebook research

J Adolesc Health. 2012 Nov;51(5):439-44. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.02.001. Epub 2012 Mar 28.


Purpose: Facebook continues to grow in popularity among adolescents as well as adolescent researchers. Guidance on conducting research using Facebook with appropriate attention to privacy and ethics is scarce. To inform such research efforts, the purpose of this study was to determine older adolescents' responses after learning that they were participants in a research study that involved identification of participants using Facebook.

Methods: Public Facebook profiles of older adolescents aged 18-19 years from a large state university were examined. Profile owners were then interviewed. During the interview, participants were informed that they were identified by examining publicly available Facebook profiles. Participants were asked to discuss their views on this research method.

Results: A total of 132 participants completed the interview (70% response rate); the average age was 18.4 years (SD = .5); and our sample included 64 male participants (48.5%). Participant responses included endorsement (19.7%), fine (36.4%), neutral (28.8%), uneasy (9.1%), and concerned (6.1%). Among participants who were uneasy or concerned, the majority voiced confusion regarding their current profile security settings (p = .00).

Conclusions: The majority of adolescent participants viewed the use of Facebook for research positively. These findings are consistent with the approach taken by many U.S. courts. Researchers may consider these findings when developing research protocols involving Facebook.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude
  • Computer Security
  • Confidentiality
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Patient Participation*
  • Social Media*
  • Young Adult