We seem to be always ‘holding court’ these days whenever the issue of teenagers and internet privacy come up. Let’s take some incidents in the recent past: one teen whose naked photos sent to her boyfriend lover went viral after their break up; another teen’s post of some students beating another girl in full camera view and the case of cyber bullying to the point of suicide. The reports are endless, some horrific and we then discharge the guilty verdict on all teens using the internet.
But this verdict depends on who defines privacy and how. Surveys show that teenagers have tended to be more savvy when it comes to protecting their privacy. Let’s take the survey the Global Cyber Security Capacity center at University of Oxford, England where the results show that almost 95% of users in the 14 – 17 age group had their privacy settings checked or changed on social media, compared to 55% in the age group 45 to 54 years. Lots more statistics at the Pew Research Center.
Whereas older adults seem more concerned with what their kids are posting and to whom, they have less concerns on their own privacy settings, changing passwords and blocking undesirables which may make them more vulnerable to cyber-crime.
When dealing with the issue of privacy many young people are more concerned with who they let into their social boundaries and networks and less with the wider network of marketers, government and public agencies and phishers, which older adults may be absorbed with. In their quest for privacy, the younger gen seem to always find ways to ‘bob and weave’ among the plethora of public eyes. Let’s just recall that they were the first on Facebook before the older gen tsunami came on; then the first to migrate to Instagram. Now Snapchat and Yik Yak seem to be the apps of choice! Fact is that the younger gen will find more innovative ways to write a new language that deludes online networks (and parents!) so they become free to share within their own private networks and trump the social norm known as privacy. Who knows how many are investigating facial recognition technology as the next wave of digital privacy? Let’s hear from the jury now.