Hot on HuffPost Tech:

See More Stories
AOL Tech

Youngsters Really Do Care About Online Privacy, Study Says

kids online privacy
With all the stories of college and high school kids who flagrantly post illicit photos on Facebook, or lose their jobs over lewd message board posts, it'd be pretty easy to assume that today's youth don't really care about online privacy issues. A new study from Berkeley, however, finds that, despite all evidence to the contrary, privacy actually does matter to younger generations of Web surfers.

In a survey of 1,000 Americans aged 18 or older, 88-percent said they'd refused to hand out information online on the grounds that it was either too personal, or simply unnecessary. Believe it or not, the same was the case with 82-percent of young adults. The majority of those between the ages of 18 and 24 (84-percent), and of those between 45 and 54 (90-percent), felt that anyone posting a photo or video of another individual should first request the permission of said individual -- even if the photo was taken in public. When asked if a corporate executive should face jail time if convicted of illegal use of online individual information, 40-percent of both 18 to 24-year olds and 35- to 44-year olds responded in the affirmative.

The study also revealed particularly interesting demographic differences in regards to expectations of privacy protection. Despite having grown up with the Internet, younger people remain confident that the government will protect their digital privacy. Their older counterparts, on the other hand, remain more skeptical -- and, it turns out, more realistic. Current law provides very little protection against online privacy infringement. All this might explain why teens seem to engage in riskier behavior; they're under the false impression that the government can always bail them out.

An equally valid explanation for the preponderance of incidents involving young users, as the Huffington Post reports, is that younger people's brains are simply more prone to impulsive, risky behavior. It's also very likely that adults reveal comparable amounts of private information online, but that they don't post the kind of headline-grabbing, scandalous photos that many younger users do. Youthful Facebookers may indulge in reckless behavior, but it probably has more to do with their own, well, youthfulness than with any conscious disregard for privacy, itself. Acknowledging this would seem to be the first logical step in drafting the kind of substantive policy that could help to bridge the gap between youthful perception and reality. [From: AP/HuffingtonPost]

Tags: demographics, facebook, Generation, policy, privacy, socialnetworking, study, teens, top, youth