It’s a Myth that Most Youth Don’t Care About Privacy Online

Most youth care about privacy, they just don’t know how to achieve it.

Parents, educators and unfortunately some Internet safety ‘experts’ often claim that kids today just don’t care about their privacy. I don’t buy it. In my experience, youth in general care a great deal about their privacy –they not only want to filter what their parents read, they want to protect themselves from bullies, scammers,  stalkers, and creeps. Nor do they want to put friends and family at risk any more than adults do. They are also concerned about what employers and colleges may see, and how information may affect their future.

A new report out of the UK by industry watchdog Ofcom supports this position. It found that kids want advice about how to keep personal information safe.

  • 54% of 11- to 16-year-olds said they need advice about how to keep their personal information online private.
  • 28% worry about passwords and PIN codes and want advice
  • 25% said they wouldn’t know what to do if they encountered inappropriate material and 22% want to know how to avoid it
  • 20% want advice on dealing with cyberbullying
  • Though 75% of 7- to 16-year-olds said they’ve received some information about staying safe online, 23% said that no one had ever talked to them seriously about online privacy and security

Knowledge gap – teaching awareness is good, teaching skills is far better

When you enter an auditorium filled with teens who think someone is going to nag at them about internet safety, they are less than thrilled. However, the minute you help them understand how much information they are sharing that they don’t even realize, and begin teaching the skills they need to protect their information while still socializing like they want to, they’re all ears.

They say as much themselves. After a training session, if you ask teens why they expose so much information in social networking sites, two answers invariably emerge: 1) they didn’t know how much they exposed and 2) they didn’t know how to protect their information while still having the social interaction they need.

Ask if they’ll do things differently now that they have some skills the answer is pretty unanimous (and checking their websites pre-and post- training shows it isn’t just polite talk).

If you want to make a difference, give youth what they are asking for – real skills training to deal with real issues.

Linda

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