May 29, 2022

Research Continues to Show that Online Privacy is Important to Young People

Two items to share in this post. Both highlight research from the UK.

1. “Young people going to increasing lengths to protect online privacy”  (via The Independent; March 15, 2014)

Young people are reluctant to share intimate details of their lives with strangers online and are going to greater lengths to protect their privacy than ever before, according to research conducted by the Market Research Society (MRS).


The report states that: “There is a universally held view that teenagers simply don’t care enough about online privacy, and this… can have disastrous consequences.”

The report, written by Colin Strong of the MRS Delphi group, says: “The reality is that, far from being careless about their privacy, teenagers manage it carefully. They just aren’t so obvious about it.

Read the Complete Article

2. Last August (2014), the Oxford Internet Institute published findings from their research on privacy and teens.

So are young people completely unconcerned about their privacy online, gaily granting access to everything to everyone? Well, in a word, no. We actually find a clear inverse relationship: almost 95% of 14-17-year-olds have checked or changed their SNS privacy settings, with the percentage steadily dropping to 32.5% of respondents aged 65 and over. The strength of this effect is remarkable: between the oldest and youngest the difference is over 62 percentage points, and we find little difference in the pattern between the 2013 and 2011 surveys. This immediately suggests that the common assumption that young people don’t care about — and won’t act on — privacy concerns is probably wrong.

They also compared their findings to similar research from Australia and the U.S.

Comparing our own data with recent nationally representative surveys from Australia (OAIC 2013) and the US (Pew 2013) we see an amazing similarity: young people are more, not less, likely to have taken action to protect the privacy of their personal information on social networking sites than older people. We find that this age effect remains significant even after controlling for other demographic variables (such as education). And none of the five non-demographic variables changes the age effect either (see the paper for the full data, analysis and modelling). The age effect appears to be real.

Read the Complete Summary/Blog Post (via Oxford Internet Institute)

The research paper by members of the Oxford Institute (and summarized in the blog post) is also available online.

Direct to Full Text Paper: “New Privacy Paradox: Young People and Privacy on Social Network Sites”
by Grant Blank
Oxford Internet Institute
Gillian Bolsover
Oxford Internet Institute
Elizabeth Dubois
Oxford Internet Institute

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.