Young take care of their privacy in social networks than adults

The creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, even said in 2010 that privacy was no longer a social norm. Whether by ignorance, laziness or because an outdated value considered, young people had been buried in the social networks. However, a study by the University of Oxford dismounts and goes around the myth that the elderly are less protected their privacy online.

In 2006, a trial investigating Susan Barnes raised the paradox of privacy. Young, pioneered the widespread use of social networks, were sharing their privacy in any of them becoming available to businesses and large amounts of data by governments, personal information for which their ancestors had fought to keep it private. It was said, and even now that the kids did not fully understand the public nature of the Internet and its implications.

However, researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute have found a lot of science to support that idea. Although it has published extensively on this ignorance or apathy of young people, most of the studies did not have a representative sample of users or had done with college populations. In fact, they have only found three peers (research peer-reviewed) on the subject. So they wanted to see how much truth is there in this paradox of privacy performing their own work, this time, respecting the needs of the statistics to get a true sampling of the general population.

To prove this, they interviewed a representative sample of the British population of 2,000 people. They wanted to know if you were reviewing or changing the privacy settings of your account in any of the 10 most popular social networks in the UK and how often did. The interviews also allowed them to create a socio-demographic and psychological profile each.

In their study [pdf], they found that the factor that best predicted the privacy concerns it was age. The median (middle value) of those who acknowledged they had never checked their configuration is very high, 43. And, on the contrary, it is the median of those who did low until the age of 26. At the end are the youngest: almost 95% of children between 14 and 17 review what share of their social life and with whom. In fact, a high percentage reviewed its configuration daily, something that, with age, becomes less frequent.

social networks

“The first law of the Internet is that everything is related to age”, says a not surprised Grant Blank, a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute and coauthor of the study. “Surprise is the negative relationship. There is a widespread belief that young people do not care about privacy. We expected the older they did more, but we found the opposite”, he adds.

In fact, after 18 years, the percentage is falling dramatically. While among those 25 there are still two thirds check their privacy settings, the figure drops to half in 40 and only 32% of retirees recognize have.

Neither sex (although girls tend to be more careful), or studies or predict income so prominently if one changes the privacy settings of your social networks. The study, however, reveals some details like that single check their profile more often and those who live in the city do unless rural users.

You might think that young people are more aware about the fact that students become more familiar with the technology or even single than by age itself. But after testing several multivariable models, researchers turned to see that this was the most influential variable.

But why? Blank has no definitive answer. “Young people are much pains in your online image in social networks. They are very aware of the ways in which present themselves. might think that this includes who has access to their profiles, which implies that privacy matters to them. Higher, however, seem to think you just need to create your profile, unaware of the implications for his image”, he says.

Erving Goffman, one of the fathers of modern social psychology, posed in his work The Presentation of Self in everyday life that people were like actors in society. With the metaphor of the theater, with its stage and backstage, or restaurant, the dining room and the kitchen, showed that the behavior was different depending on each area and the rules on what is accepted in one or the other too. The problem is that social networks have broken the boundaries.


On this basis, the authors of the study raise a new sociological theory of privacy that fits well with the observed behavior amongst young people. Unlike the older, most of which came on sites like Facebook or Twitter with their well-established social circles, children have no more than three offline networks: family, friends and school and often do not mix. They are at the time of leaving the family, go their own way and do not want to share what they do with their parents or friends with potential employers.

However, the creators of social networks it is not easy to get. Your business do well depends on the largest possible amount of data sharing. Except Google+ with its Circles, most networks especially Facebook, are designed to share everything with everyone. Or were. The last week Facebook announced a renovation of its privacy settings by copying the idea of circles of Google.

As Oxford researchers conclude, “the real paradox is that social networks are integrated both in the social life of the people to keep this social life must reveal personal information about them despite the fact that there is a certain risk for your privacy”.


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