Young adults concerned but naive about privacy: Study

2010-04-16 10:21

Hot trends in online social networking, geolocation services, and

firing off musings in Twitter messages are not a sign that privacy is less

important to the younger generation than to its predecessors, according to the


“We are not arguing that young adults don’t do foolish things on

Facebook,” said study co-author Joseph Turow, a professor at the University of

Pennsylvania Annenberg School for Communication.

“Some of them may do silly things, but a huge percentage of them

care. We find there is rather little difference between young adults and people

who are older when you talk to them about privacy.”

The real difference lay in how much adults aged 18 to 24 believed

their online privacy was protected by law, Turow said.

“The general population thinks the government protects them more

than it does, but young adults even more so,” he told AFP.

Factors that may prompt young adults to be more cavalier with

information online include peer pressure to be part of internet social networks

and natural tendencies toward risky behaviour.

Turow cautioned that more research regarding what older adults do

online is needed for a true comparison of the behaviour of different age groups

on the internet. “It is possible older adults do... foolish things (as


“They may not show up naked as much but they may get in trouble

saying bad things about a boss or with a picture of them golfing when they are

supposed to be off sick.”

Young adults need education about the degree to which their online

privacy is legally guarded and security settings at social networking websites

should be tight by default, study authors suggested.

The study by Annenberg and the law school at the University of

California, Berkeley, was based on a random sampling of 1?000 adults surveyed by

telephone last year.


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