The privacy paradox

| October 28, 2013 | 0 Comments

The Pew Research Centre in Washington, DC, in the US, has released several studies that build on what educationists and policy makers know – and don’t – about teens’ use of technology, like the fact that teens are turning to Twitter instead of Facebook as their preferred online social platform. The research indicates that teens’ attitudes to online privacy may be shifting.

Ninety-one per cent of youngsters surveyed indicated that they are sharing more information online – such as photos of themselves, their school name, their e-mail addresses and cellphone numbers. Paradoxically, the study also found increasing numbers of teens are limiting accessibility to their private information. About 60% set their profiles to ‘private’. Others have created fictional information about themselves. Pew researchers say this finding confirmed the popular belief that teens are “walking contradictions”.

One respondent said she was sick of the “drama’’ of Facebook and another admitted to having “two [Facebook accounts]: one for my family, one for my friends”. McAfee, Inc., an antivirus software and computer security company headquartered in Santa Clara, California, found in a similar study that 70% of teens actively sought to prevent their parents’ involvement in their online behaviour, deliberately choosing smartphones over laptops or computers. Relatively few teens involved in the study said they cared whether their images were used publicly without their consent, or whether their personal data, reputations or finances would be hacked.

Many more study respondents considered that their peer immediate social relationships were the most important things in their lives, and used social networks to maintain them. The Pew researchers deduced that American teens’ high level of connectivity has become an integral part of cultural development. According to authors of a comparative study conducted in 2012 at the University of Washington, Seattle, teens regard inaccessibility to their online social circles as a form of isolation.

And teens are the population group most connected to the internet. Says one of the Pew study authors: “The alwaysconnected teen might alter the economy, work and every aspect of society.” The study found, for example, a “drastic drop” in the number of teens seeking to qualify for driver’s licences, preferring public transport instead so that they can safely stay online for longer.

Category: e-Education, Summer 2013

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