It seems the iGeneration is coming of age—and they're addressing the very issues the "old timers" have been railing about far more efficiently and willingly than the group that raised concerns about online privacy and digital reputations. What steps are you taking to manage your online reputation? You may want to take a few pointers from the 18-29 crowd.
The Pew Research Center has found that young adults are more likely to customize their privacy options to manage what they share and whom they share it with than older users. This group is more likely to search for information on themselves as well as others online; they're growing increasingly aware that information is available to a variety of sources and they're less trusting of social networking sites. Here is a look at some of the other findings from PRC:
- They take steps to limit the amount of personal information available about them online—44% of young adult internet users say this, compared with 33% of internet users between ages 30-49, 25% of those ages 50-64 and 20% of those ages 65 and older.
- They change privacy settings - 71% of social networking users ages 18-29 have changed the privacy settings on their profile to limit what they share with others online. By comparison, just 55% of SNS users ages 50-64 have changed the default settings.
- They delete unwanted comments - 47% social networking users ages 18-29 have deleted comments that others have made on their profile, compared with just 29% of those ages 30-49 and 26% of those ages 50-64.
- They remove their name from photos - 41% of social networking users ages 18-29 say they have removed their name from photos that were tagged to identify them, compared with just 24% of SNS users ages 30-49 and only 18% of those ages 50-64.
This shifts in awareness run parallel to growing changes in the work place; employers are also becoming more aware of how digital footprints can impact their corporate reputation and ability to attract both clients and new employees. As the iGeneration enters the workforce, they're conscious of the image they may be projecting to potential employers who are using any and all means available to vet new hires.
It seems that we are finally beginning to take steps to define and actively manage the digital spaces we occupy. While there are certainly people who are comfortable sharing everything, a growing number of folks are pulling back. If this behavior continues, could we see the evolution of online networks into something that resembles real world networks? Where our relationships are actually tiered and "privileges" are awarded to each tier in relation to their degree of connectivity?