Young adults seem to be wiser than adults when it comes to understanding the risks associated with online business and personal interactions.
According to a study by Pew Research, titled The state of privacy in post-Snowden America, young adults are generally more focused than are their elders when it comes to online privacy.
The study brackets 18-29 year-olds as young adults. It shows that the majority of these people care about keeping some control over their personally identifiable information. The people teens are most worried about are their parents. They may not be too concerned about hackers stealing their private photos and intimate conversations, but they do not want their parents to have access.
Other similar reports show that young adults deploy a wide variety of privacy-protective measures.
Using different sites and apps for different purposes
Configuring settings on social media sites
Using pseudonyms in certain situations
Switching between multiple accounts
Turning on incognito options in their browsers
Opting out of certain apps or sites
Using Do-Not-Track browser plugins
Using password management apps
These are security and privacy measures that most “wiser” older adults don’t do. The Pew Research study notes that “young adults generally are more focused than their elders when it comes to online privacy.”
Among the 18-to-29-year-olds surveyed:
74 percent have cleared cookies and browser histories,
71 percent have deleted or edited something they had posted,
49 percent have configured their browsers to reject cookies,
42 percent have decided not to use certain sites that demanded their real names, and
41 percent have used temporary usernames or email addresses.
In each of those categories, the younger group of users surpassed their elders. We all should be protecting ourselves better online. This includes creating unique usernames and passwords. It also includes changing those usernames and passwords at least every three months. We can all refrain from clicking on links – even if we’re sure they came from friends. Our friend’s account may have been hacked. That’s why we should be extremely careful before clicking on them.
The Pew Research study also tells us that younger adults “are more likely to have shared personal information online” — but then, they grew up with the opportunity to do so, an opportunity their elders didn’t have. Having a solid understanding of online security and privacy risks – even if that understanding only involves one’s parents, can make one wary of oversharing their private information. As Irina Raicu points out, perhaps the younger generation is one that is over sharing = one that has had enough of ‘sharing’ and is ‘over’ the thrill, for the most part, of doing so.
Irina Raicu is the director of the Internet Ethics program at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University. We used information from her article found here for this post.