Millennials embracing online reality more than baby boomers

Published 26 April 2013  |  
PA

A new survey has revealed significant differences between millennials and baby boomers when it comes to attitudes towards the internet.

While millennials (ages 18 to 34) and baby boomers (35+) were both reluctant allow access to their personal data and web behaviour, millennials were more willing to compromise some of their privacy where there was a perceived benefit.

When asked about the statement, "No one should ever be allowed to have access to my personal data or web behavior," 70 per cent of millennials agreed, compared with 77 per cent of users 35 and older.

When asked if they would share their location with companies in order to receive coupons or deals for nearby businesses, 56 per cent of millennials agreed, compared to 42 per cent of users aged 35 and older.

And when asked if they would share information with companies "as long as I get something in return", 51 per cent of millennials agreed, compared to 40 per cent of those age 35 and older.

Social networks have also become a normal part of day to day communication for millennials in a way that they haven't for over-35s.

The average number of people millennials say they regularly contact through social networking sites is 18, compared to only five for users over the age of 35.

Millennials also use social networking sites far more frequently, with almost half of millennials (48 per cent) saying they visit social networking websites several times a day. This compares to only one in five users aged 35 or older.

The survey was conducted by the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future and Bovitz Inc.

"Millennials think differently when it comes to online privacy," said Elaine B Coleman, managing director of media and emerging technologies for Bovitz.

"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.

"Millennials say, 'I'll give up some personal information if I get something in return.' For older users, sharing is a function of trust - 'the more I trust, the more I am willing to share'."

A separate survey of over 1,000 US internet users out this week from Abine found that baby boomers and millennials are even starting to define privacy in different terms.

Baby boomers were 74 per cent more likely to choose a traditional, offline description of privacy - "the right to be free from others watching me".

Millennials were 177 per cent more likely to choose a modern, data-centric definition - "being able to delete anything about me online".

What they have in common is that privacy is important to both, with 90% of all respondents agreeing that they worry about their privacy.

Eighty-five per cent were worried about giving out their credit card numbers online, while 82% were uncomfortable with sharing their personal contact details.

Millennials were 84 per cent more likely to distrust Facebook with their data.

"Consumers rate privacy as more important than ever, yet they have less control over when and where their personal information is shared than ever before," said Bill Kerrigan, Abine chief executive.

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