So much for the stereotype about kids and their lack of concern for online privacy. Turns out, more than half are actually pretty discerning regarding what they post about themselves, says Pew Internet & American Life Project. According to its new report, as many as 55 percent of young people are selective about they share online — particuarly when it comes to things that could negatively influence their future opportunities. In other words, the standards for sharing aren’t really that dissimilar between younger users and older adults.
That’s not to say that, when it comes to privacy, age doesn’t matter. At the 17-year-old mark, when kids are transitioning into adulthood — and likely more attuned to consequences of their online actions — the statistic understandably goes up. As many as two-thirds (or 67 percent) of these respondents say they’ve held off on posting something after weighing the potential repercussions.
Granted, what users post about themselves is only part of the equation. Kids also keep an eye out for what others share about them. Says Pew researchers, “[T]he privacy-protecting behaviors of youth are complex, and involve a combination of application choice, profile settings, selective friending, and message control.”
It’s interesting when a tidbit like this comes along, garnering headlines because it challenges the notion that children en masse aren’t, in fact, irresponsible and ignorant about consequences. Maybe we, as a society, devalue young people so much that when evidence suggests kids actually aren’t as clueless as we think, it is a newsworthy event. But in this case, should the results really be so surprising? We’re talking about a generation that is growing up with social media. Their caution is likely coming from a deep-seated savviness and understanding of how pervasive and powerful “sharing” can be. Indeed, there are parallels between their wisdom and that of older generations, for whom privacy in general is a serious matter. You don’t fight for freedoms and rights, and then go and take civil liberties for granted.
What’s appropriate or not might vary between the groups, but at least privacy, as a concept, is a priority on both ends of the age spectrum.
Does this match up with your experience in your social networks? Or do Pew’s findings surprise you? Let us know what you think in the comments below.