Study shows major generational divide on online privacy attitudes

Online privacy study young adults

A study published this week by the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future found that young adults don’t care as much about online privacy as older Internet users. Individuals between the ages of 18 and 34, known as Millennials, were found to be more willing to hand over their personal data or web behavior to online businesses. Although 70% of young adults agreed that companies should never be allowed to access their personal data, compared to 77% by those older than 35, Millennials were more willing to give up some privacy if they benefited from it, such as receiving coupons or other business deals.

“Online privacy is dead — Millennials understand that, while older users have not adapted,” said Jeffrey I. 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.”

More than half of Millennials surveyed said they would be willing to trade personal information for something in return, compared to just 40% of those aged 35 and older. Both age groups agreed, however, that personal data being used for targeted advertisements was a concern. Only 25% of young adults agreed with targeted ads, compared to 19% of Internet users age 35 and older.

“We are seeing a whole new set of values driving Millennials in their behavior online,” said Greg Bovitz, president of Bovitz Inc, co-publisher of the study. “The fact that Millennials are willing to part with personal information creates new opportunities for businesses to develop marketing models that capitalize on the wants of this generation of Internet users.”

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