Why is everyone still surprised that kids are the ones who want more online privacy? I mean, Grandma has nothing to hide! And plenty to share!
It might go against conventional wisdom, but a new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project is adding fuel to the argument that young people are fast becoming the gurus of online reputation management, especially when it comes to social networking sites. Among other things, the study found that they are most likely to limit personal information online - and the least likely to trust free online services ranging from Facebook to LinkedIn and MySpace.
Well, yeah. The study and piece, like the New York Times, point out this is a "brand-conscious generation" concerned about the realities of applying for jobs with sensitive information available. Sure. But they're also the ones who are likely to have things worth censoring.
The Pew study found, for instance, that social networkers ages 18 to 29 were the most likely to change the privacy settings on their profiles to limit what they share with others online. The percentage who did so was 71 percent, compared with just 55 percent of the 50- to 64-year-old bracket.
Well, if the "50- to 64-year-old bracket" had a penchant for pictures of themselves doing body-shots in Cancun, wearing slutty Calamity Jane costumes or projectile vomiting, chances are their "privacy" setting numbers and untagging stats would be higher too.
While the article makes the point that kids today are worried about the hypothetical college admissions officers who, in the public imagination, seem to spend all their time slavering over Facebook, the concerns over "reputation" are probably at least partially more immediate. A kid doesn't need to worry about a future employed; she needs to worry about the next day at school, where her life can be made a living hell. " When asked how much they can trust social networking sites, 28 percent of the youngest adults surveyed said 'never.'" No kidding.
Then there's the fact that the older age-bracket has crashed the party. What kid wants his aunts and grandpa privy to his wall-feuds, in-jokes and asinine commentary? And that's to say nothing of private romances or exploring new identities and interests. The privacy settings are the digital equivalent of a "grown-ups keep out" sign on a kid's bedroom door. The only real shocker is that it's only 71% of kids increasing their privacy.