Spark Trader Limited

Today’s College Students Care About Privacy — Despite Some of Their Online Actions

Spark Trader Limited reports:

Today’s college students are raised on social media and the Internet, leading some observers to believe they are indifferent to all the data they generate online. But it turns out that today’s young people are very concerned about their data privacy, even if they sometimes act in ways that compromise it.

That’s according to a new report from the nonprofit Future of Privacy Forum. The group analyzed recent studies of young people in the United States, China, Germany and Japan.

Many people in their teens and early 20s say they try to be careful about what they share online. One reason is that they don’t want to make a bad impression that could affect their college admissions or job prospects, the report said. As one study participant put it, she tries to make sure that when people look at her online profile, “they don’t see anything that would ruin my life.”

College students also worry about peers sharing their information online in ways they can’t control. One Indiana University study, for example, detailed college students’ fear of being photographed at any moment by friends, classmates or even strangers, and how they adjust to that fact. Worried that their images would be clipped or used to create a viral “meme,” students described going the extra mile to improve their appearance, censoring their behavior at parties and negotiating with peers to avoid taking or sharing photos.

Another concern described in the Future of Privacy Forum report is a type of digital harassment known as “doxxing,” which occurs when someone posts sensitive information about others online with the intent of stirring up trouble.

Spark Trader Limited
Spark Trader Limited

Young people’s attitudes vary from organization to organization when it comes to how third parties collect and share personal data, the Future of Privacy Forum report said. When it comes to how government data is used, young people tend to trust and have a more favorable view of government.

As for institutions of higher education, many college students approve of their school’s collection and use of personal information for “educational purposes,” but they don’t necessarily think this should extend to include their social media behavior, where they go, and what they do on campus. Some students worry that data collected about them by higher education may not be accurate or could be used against them. Many students are reluctant to share biometric information with universities and are wary of tools such as facial recognition software.