Skip to main content

Teenagers are more data privacy savvy than you think

A new piece of research has drawn some interesting conclusions when it comes to personal data privacy for consumers, and teenagers in particular.

You may think that teens are careless when it comes to online privacy, but apparently this is a myth, according to the report from MRS, entitled ‘Private Lives? Putting the consumer at the heart of the debate’.

In fact, teens aren’t feckless, scattering their data about here and there with abandon according to the study, but they take privacy issues seriously, and on social networks use forms of coding – in jokes and ‘vaguebooking’, which is a vague message designed to hide its true meaning.

And youngsters can also go to lengths such as posting false personal details, to throw anyone combing their feed for data off the scent – or “dirtying” their data, as the report authors refer to it.

The study also uncovered a general distrust of how personal data is collected, kept and used in this day and age. Indeed, only one in ten folks feel like they have “complete control” over their personal data being kept private (and they’re likely either kidding themselves, or pretty much off the online grid totally).

70 per cent of all respondents to a YouGov poll said that the privacy of their personal data is more important now than it was five to ten years back. That same poll also found that the UK government is only trusted slightly more than supermarkets, when it comes to looking after personal data.

Colin Strong, lead author of the MRS report, commented: “People are recognising the value of their personal information and institutions need to be prepared for a more robust justification of what is currently being traded in exchange for disclosure. Value is not just monetary, but social and emotional as well. This report is an attempt to broaden the privacy debate and help organisations and institutions properly consider the implications from the perspective of individual consumers and citizens.”

Darren Allan

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.