Young more likely to take action to protect privacy than older people, new research shows

09 May 2014

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The Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre and Oxford Internet Institute have together released a draft working paper examining the attitudes of younger people towards privacy online.

Co-Authored by Dr Grant Blank, Gillian Bolsover and Elizabeth Dubois, this report ‘A New Privacy Paradox: Young people and privacy on social network sites’ shows that, contrary to conventional wisdom, young people are actually more likely to have taken action to protect their privacy than older people.

The report develops a sociological theory that accounts for the fact of youth concern, discussing the behaviours of younger people that lead them in general to be more sensitive about privacy than their elders. However, the sharing of some information online is necessary to gain the perceived benefits of social network sites. For example, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg justified changing default privacy settings to allow everyone to see and search for names, gender, city and other information by saying “Privacy is no longer a social norm”.

The ‘new privacy paradox’ is that these sites have become so embedded in the social lives of users that they must disclose information on them despite the fact that these sites do not provide adequate privacy controls.

Download the full report.

Prepared for the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, 16-19 August 2014, San Francisco, California.

Find out more about the research of the Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre on Encouraging Responsible Cyber Culture Within Society