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Continued: The generation that helped put the 'social' in online networking wants privacy, too

  • Article by: MARTHA IRVINE , AP National Writer
  • Last update: June 13, 2013 - 8:02 PM

"Most teens aren't worried about strangers," she added, "They're worried about getting in trouble (with those they know)."

They're also getting more serious about editing their online lives — and adding more privacy measures — as they enter the college and work worlds, says Mary Madden, a senior researcher at the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

"They've had to learn to function in this world of constant monitoring," says Madden, who co-wrote her organization's report on young people and privacy.

That includes parents who track their children's mobile devices, computers and accounts. "So they crave the freedom to have a playful space where they can do that," Madden says.

It explains, in part, why teens are moving to more creative and visually driven sites, such as Instagram and Snapchat.

Results from the most recent Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll, released Thursday but collected before the NSA story broke, found that young people were still more likely to accept the privacy tradeoffs of online life. Fifty-seven percent of young adults, ages 18 to 29, said they had a "great deal" of control over the personal information online. Even if there are risks, 54 percent also said the positives of online life made potential privacy tradeoffs worth it. Older age groups were consistently less likely to feel control over their online information and were less confident about the benefits of the tradeoffs.

But they still want more control.

A study published in 2010 by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Pennsylvania found that a large majority of young adults they questioned in 2009 thought there should be a law that would require website providers to delete all stored information about an individual.

Those young people also wanted a law that would give them the right to know all the information those website providers have about them. Some would include government investigators, too.

"I would highly prefer not having a target on my back for saying something in what I believe is a private forum," says Jayson Flores, who'll be a senior this year at Arcadia University in Pennsylvania.

His views are consistent with the group that falls on the side of privacy over surveillance.

Mandi Grandjean, a recent graduate of Miami University in Ohio, says she's fine with the federal government doing secret surveillance of phone call records and Internet exchanges to combat terrorism, but "with congressional oversight."

"I was in sixth grade when 9/11 happened — and the world changed," she says. "I am personally not a fan of big government, but I understand there are needs for security."

But even she believes it's different when it comes to an employer, or even a coach. She was an athlete at Miami and had to agree to have her social networking accounts — even private ones — monitored by her coaches.

She recalls one time, when she tweeted something on her locked Twitter account at midnight. Shortly after, her coach texted her: "Go to bed."

"I think there's a line," Grandjean says. "It puts me on edge.. It's a little too close for comfort."

The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone June 6-9 with a random sample of 1,004 adults, age 18 and older. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 3.7 percentage points.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project privacy poll, completed last September, tallied responses from 802 young people, ages 12 to 17, and their parents. It has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.5 percentage points.

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  • Mandi Grandjean, a recent graduate of Miami University in Ohio, says she's fine with the government doing secret surveillance of phone call records and Internet exchanges, but believes it's different when it comes to an employer, or even a coach.

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