Are you worried about your online reputation?

Stephanie Goldburg

Web search engines make our lives easier: They connect us with what we're searching for in a matter of seconds, and sometimes they bring us to places we didn't even know we were looking for.

But they can also teach us a lot about ourselves, as more than half of adult internet users already know.

About 57 per cent of adult internet users in the US said they have entered their name into a search engine to assess their digital reputation, according to a new Pew Research Centre study "Reputation Management and Social Media."

That's a significant increase since 2006, when only 47 per cent of adult internet users said they had looked their name up on a search engine. The findings show "reputation management has now become a defining feature of online life," the study says.

This probably doesn't come as a surprise to many, considering a new story about Facebook's privacy settings surface each day.

And the concern about people's digital reputations will most likely continue to grow as posting and sharing information over the internet becomes more and more widespread.

The study also found that young adults are more apt to "restrict what they share" and manage their online reputations more closely than older internet users. This is "contrary to the popular perception that younger users embrace a laissez-faire attitude about their online reputations," according to Mary Madden, a senior research specialist.

The Pew Research Centre study, which took place by phone sampled 2,253 adults 18 and older.