Privacy MattersPrivacy Matters
Though they've grown up in the Internet age, teens don't take their privacy for granted.
July 3, 2002
Teen-agers growing up in the computer age hear the same rules about safety as their parents once did: Don't talk to strangers and don't give out your name, phone number, or address to anyone that you don't know or trust. But for teen-agers who spend almost two hours a day online, the game has changed. Sharing personal data on the Internet comes down to a question of who's asking--and what they're offering in return.
Some teens are adamant about keeping their personal information private. "It's a given that I don't give out personal information," says Jeremy Allen-Arney, a 10th-grader at the Dalton School in New York. Others will give up a little information in exchange for goods, services, or special privileges. Although 16-year-old Bhagli Suren, a senior at John Bowne High School in Queens, N.Y., didn't have to provide an address to subscribe to a Rolling Stone online newsletter, she gave hers anyway in the hopes of getting published when she sends letters to the editor. "The more information I can give them, the more they'll see that I'm interested in what they're doing, and maybe they'll put my letters in the magazine," she says. While teens are more experienced than many of their parents when it comes to electronic communication, they are concerned about online privacy. But there's a difference between the generations: While adults tend to fret about security issues such as credit-card fraud, teens worry more about having their privacy invaded by unwanted marketing and spam. While 73% of adults don't buy online because of privacy concerns, only 40% of people ages 16 to 22 don't shop online, because they don't want to give out personal information on the Internet, according to a Forrester Research survey of more than 10,000 North American Internet-savvy youths. Those who sell to them, or will some day employ them, need to understand their expectations.
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