Are Millennials Redefining Data Privacy?

Are Millennials Redefining Data Privacy?

Feature Friday: Are Millennials Redefining Data Privacy?

Guest Post by Gina Yeagley

We have all heard it before, that mobile is tomorrow. According to the Pew Internet Report on Teens and Technology, 75% of teens between the age of 12-17 are “mobile internet users.” Privacy on the Internet as we once knew it is rapidly changing. What many people using the Internet wanted to protect 10 years ago is now shared publicly and easily accessible to friends, family, schools, employers, and even identity thieves. The idea that we are losing our privacy with the rise of social media is not true, but instead we are reevaluating what we define as privacy.

Along with rapidly evolving technology comes a new evolution of data and privacy. Andrew Jeavons, CEO at Survey Analytics conducted a survey to gain social media and privacy insights defined by two general age groups. The respondents consisted of frequent social media users that are boomers (over 30 years old) and millennials (under 30 years old). In the short survey conducted, respondents were asked for their age, to select what they consider private information, questions regarding who they connect or “friend” on social media channels, if they have ever deleted a social media profile, and their comfort of sharing location data of where they are to friends and family, and also to employers and businesses. The five items that both age groups agreed on and defined as “privacy” are 1) Social Security Numbers, 2) Location, 3) Income, 4) Contact Information and 5) DNA. From the results, we are able to see the similarities, differences and their thoughts surrounding privacy in terms of the data they are comfortable sharing.

Millennials tend to have a much higher number of friends on social media channels.


More expendable “friends” lead to higher profile deletion rates for millennials.


Millennials are more likely to share their location with friends and family.


Millennials are less likely to share their location with employers and businesses.


This survey along with other recent studies have found a very high rate of inconsistency when it comes to privacy. Both groups agreed in the beginning of the survey that location data is something they value as private information. Majority of both age groups have geolocation services running on their mobile devices, but have a very limited understanding of the new technology and what data is being shared. A similar privacy contradiction was found in a survey conducted by USC Annenberg in April of 2013. The “Millennial Rift” found that more than 50% of millennials would give up their personal information in exchange for incentives. Of that same group, 70% believe that their personal data should be kept private. Another recent survey by Forbes suggests that millennials have no idea what privacy means. Other research finds that two thirds of millennial consumers do not trust online companies with their personal information, yet they give up personal information anyways. Why? For the incentive, the belief that sharing more brings them a reward of more attention. (Infographic, The Sad State of Social Media Privacy).

We have learned that privacy today is at a crossroad and will be redefined by millennials – the first generation to grow up surrounded by digital and social media. As a company that develops survey software, we hear from many of our clients that they are having a difficult time getting response on long traditional online surveys, we also get asked for guidance on where to find very targeted sample to participate in surveys. In the future, engaging ourselves to create brand awareness in social, mobile, and local channels is essential to gain greater insights.

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