A new study shows that the current debate about online privacy may wane as those who grew up online begin to take over. The survey, conducted at the University of Southern Calfornia (USC), shows that members of the Millennial generation hold very different conceptions of privacy compared to their parents and grandparents.
Millennials, defined as those aged 18-34, were found to be more willing to allow companies track them or access their personal information compared to those 35 and older. Millennials were also found to be more receptive to the idea of targeted advertising, and were much more active on social media. All of this, though, is predicated on receiving some benefit for the lack of privacy.
“Millennials think differently when it comes to online privacy,” said Elaine Coleman, managing director of media and emerging technologies for Bovitz, the research firm that conducted the survey in conjunction with USC. “It’s not that they don’t care about it - rather they perceive social media as an exchange or an economy of ideas, where sharing involves participating in smart ways."
Though the social benefit of most social media is clear, even more tangible benefits still don't seem to entice those over 35 as much as they do Millennials. One question, for example, asked whether a survey respondent would reveal their location to a company in exchange for coupons to nearby businesses. 56% of Millennials would share their location, but only 42% of older respondents said they would.
"Online privacy is dead - Millennials understand that, while older users have not adapted,” said Jeffrey Cole, director of the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future. “Millennials recognize that giving up some of their privacy online can provide benefits to them. This demonstrates a major shift in online behavior - there’s no going back."
(Infographic courtesy the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future)