Media reports teem with stories of young people posting salacious photos online, writing about alcohol-fueled misdeeds on social networking sites, and publicizing other ill-considered escapades that may haunt them in the future.How Different are Young Adults from Older Adults When it Comes to Information Privacy Attitudes and Policies?
These anecdotes are interpreted as representing a generation-wide shift in attitude toward information privacy. Many commentators therefore claim that young people “are less concerned with maintaining privacy than older people are.”
Surprisingly, though, few empirical investigations have explored the privacy attitudes of young adults. This report is among the first quantitative studies evaluating young adults’ attitudes. It demonstrates that the picture is more nuanced than portrayed in the popular media.
A gap in privacy knowledge provides one explanation for the apparent license with which the young behave online. 42 percent of young Americans answered all of our five online privacy questions incorrectly. 88 percent answered only two or fewer correctly.
The problem is even more pronounced when presented with offline privacy issues – post hoc analysis showed that young Americans were more likely to answer no questions correctly than any other age group.
We conclude then that that young-adult Americans have an aspiration for increased privacy even while they participate in an online reality that is optimized to increase their revelation of personal data.
Hoofnagle, Chris Jay, King, Jennifer, Li, Su and Turow, Joseph,. How Different are Young Adults from Older Adults When it Comes to Information Privacy Attitudes and Policies? (April 14, 2010). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1589864