Friday, April 04, 2008

Public vs. Private

NPR's All Things Considered discussed teen's use of the internet (social networking in particular) and their feelings on privacy. The new stats: 93% of 12-17 year-olds are online and most log on every day. More numbers to remind us this is the new way of doing things.

Mary Madden, a Senior Researcher at Pew Internet and American Life, was the expert and introduced me to a new phrase: "self literacy." Though I am not sure if it is that much different that "self-awareness" in the age of technology, I think it captures an essential aspect of online activity. That we all need to be aware of what information people can find out about us by simply surfing the 'net. She states that although most teens are "savvy about their privacy," by restricting access to their information to their friends only, sometimes a person's friend list can number in the hundreds which is not so "private" after all. She suggests that everyone Google their name in order to find out what others can learn about you.

The part that struck me most was that parents and their kids could do this together. Each could Google their name and see what comes up. That was a little creepy to me. That whole realization that this concept has been around long enough that parents and their teens can air their dirty laundry to each other in front of a screen. All this, Madden states, is going to force us into a culture that has to be more forgiving of our "personal leftover data gone bad."

No more hemming and hawing when your kid asks you if you inhaled...

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I Googled my parents' names and learned that apparently my mom is a sign language teacher in Guam & my dad is a hair stylist in Atlanta. But their company website didn't come up. Gotta love Google spiders!

My twitter feed is the only thing of mine that shows up.