Amid the debate over government surveillance, there’s been an assumption: Young people don’t care about privacy. Turns out, the generation that puts much of the “social” in social networking is much more complex when determining what personal information they want to share.
Sure, they’re as likely as ever to post photos of themselves online, as well as their location and even phone numbers, say those who track their high-tech habits. But as they approach adulthood, they’re also getting more adept at hiding and pruning their online lives.
Despite their propensity for sharing, many young adults also are surprisingly big advocates for privacy — in some cases, more than their elders.
That attitude showed up most recently in a poll done over the weekend for the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and The Washington Post. The poll, tied to the disclosure of broad federal surveillance, found that young adults were much more divided than older generations when asked if the government should tread on their privacy to thwart terrorism.
Fifty-one percent of young adults, ages 18 to 29, said it was “more important for the federal government to investigate possible terrorist threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy.”
But 45 percent said personal privacy was more important, even if it limited the ability to investigate possible terrorist threats.
In contrast, less than a third of adults, age 30 and older, told pollsters that preserving personal privacy was more important, while about two-thirds placed higher value on permitting terror investigations, regardless of privacy infringement.
The young adults were much more in line with their elders when asked about the government monitoring specific modes of communication. Pollsters found that a slight majority of adults — including 18- to 29-year-olds — said it was “acceptable” for the government to secretly obtain phone call records.
But a similar…