Digital natives have regrets

5 November 2014

AMSTERDAM/SAN FRANCISCO: Contrary to the perception that young consumers growing up with social media are happy to share their lives online, significant proportions regret posting something and have asked for content to be removed.

The latest Digital Diaries research from Dutch online security firm AVG surveyed 4,000 teenagers aged 11-16 in nine markets – including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, New Zealand, the UK and the US – on the topic of online privacy.

This found that 28% of respondents admitted to having second thoughts about something they had posted, but just 9% thought they shared too much about themselves.

The biggest problem seemed to be other people. Almost one third (32%) had asked someone else to remove content related to them, mostly because they didn't like it (61%) but on occasion because it was too personal (28%).

Often the culprit was close to home – one in five (18%) who had taken this action identified their mother as the offending poster. And over one in four (28%) have talked to a friend or family member whom they felt shared too much.

Tony Anscombe, senior security evangelist at AVG Technologies, warned parents against "sharenting" – the practice of sharing about their children online and creating a digital footprint for them over which they have no control.

"The reality is that we have all – teenagers included – embraced technology without much question and the result has been the steady erosion of our online privacy," he said.

Most teenagers are aware of the problem, with 71% of respondents claiming to understand what online privacy means and a similar proportion having changed their settings on Facebook, for example, to make it more difficult for people to find them.

Despite this, however, only 29% could say they properly knew all of their Facebook friends.

Emily Cherry, Head of Participation at the NSPCC children's charity, said the young should be aware that people were not always who they appeared to be online and she warned of a potential "privacy time bomb" if teens were not offered adequate protection.

Data sourced from PR Newswire; additional content by Warc staff