We’re currently working on more stories for our series on Millennials — those workers under the age of 30. One of the things that has struck me most is that their concept of personal and social media privacy is very different from that of Generation X or baby boomers. From the McCann Worldgroup’s Truth about Youth study: “Given a list of things (including cosmetics, their car, their passport, their phone and their sense of smell) 53% of those aged 16-22 and 48% of those aged 23-30 would give up their own sense of smell if it meant they could keep an item of technology (most often their phone or laptop).” People in the Millennial generation (called the Facebook Generation by some) have almost never been alone because their friends are always by their side through their devices. So, in some ways, removing their smartphone or laptop would mean essentially killing their friendships. This finding absolutely ties into their desire for a flexible mobile device policy.
What’s even more alarming is Millennials’ sense of social media privacy: While they admit they are seriously concerned about their own sensitive information being broadcast over Facebook, 63% of Millennials still use social media as a primary form of socializing, according to the Euro RSCG Prosumer Report — This Digital Life. Only 36% of the baby boomer generation answered similarly. In the same survey, 66% of respondents age 18 to 34 agreed with the statement “Young people today have no sense of personal privacy; they’re willing to post anything and everything about their lives online.” Millennials are also worried about their own social media privacy: Fifty-one percent are concerned that their friends and family “will share information about them online that they don’t want to be made public.”
From HIPAA violations to proprietary information breaches, it’s no wonder that the Millennial workforce is worried about social media privacy. Still, they clearly can’t release the hold social media has over them. We may simply need to define the concept of personal privacy — whether we like it or not.