Monday, November 26, 2007

UK tells MySpace generation: You might regret that hearfelt blog confession

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is the UK's independent authority set up to promote access to official information and to protect personal information. On Friday, the ICO released the results of a survey whose findings suggest that teenagers are recklessly posting personal information, photos, diaries and blog comments on social networking sites, blogs and personal web pages. These posts, the agency warns, may come back to haunt teenagers:

As many as four and a half million young people (71%) would not want a college, university or potential employer to conduct an internet search on them unless they could first remove content from social networking sites, according to new research by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). But almost six in 10 have never considered that what they put online now might be permanent and could be accessed years into the future.

In this case, young people are defined as 14-21 years old.

David Smith, Deputy Commissioner for the ICO, said: "Many young people are posting content online without thinking about the electronic footprint they leave behind. The cost to a person’s future can be very high if something undesirable is found by the increasing number of education institutions and employers using the internet as a tool to vet potential students or employees."
An argument in favor of anonymity perhaps? (Devin Stewart has written extensively on the debate over online anonymity. You can join the conversation here.)

The ICO has launched a new site to help UK teens safely navigate the online space? Will it work? Could government possibly know more than teenagers about social networking? Does the internet make it easier for teens to make foolish choices? Haven't parents always worried that kids will make tragic mistakes in their teenage years and "Throw their life away?"

You tell me. Just be careful what you write........

Photo by Annie in Beziers under terms of Creative Commons.


Amoravick said...

It would seem that if teenagers of sound mind, knowing full well the consiquences of their actions, and in knowing this voluntarily take the risk of "throwing their life away" then there is no moral dilema since that is their choice. However providing means for involuntary "depositing of one's life in the garbage" of those who are not aware of the consiquences is not ethical. So where should the line be drawn? I'd say maybe have a screening process or test to somehow calculate maturity level before permitting a "young person" to have means to the risky personal sites.

BGfessup9 said...

This is an age when teenagers need to be careful of their computer usage.
There are people out there who can take the information and harm them in many dangerous ways.
No 14 year old thinks that what he/she puts on the web is going to affect their college aplication. It is up to--yes--here it goes--the parents to tell them not to put their diaries or deep dark information on their blogs or other websites that they have.

In their computer classes(and they are taking them to fufill a requirement)their teachers should tell them what to put on the Net and what not to put on the Net.

In the end it is up the the kids, but with stern adults not backing down, they will learn how to cautiously use the net!

Ralph L. said...

I think it should be up to the parents to educate their children in how to use the internet responsibly. Of course there is the problem of most 12 year olds being more computer literate than their parents. Educators as well should play a part in warning young people about the dangers in posting wrecklessly. Personal information getting into the wrong hands is one thing. My big concern are the online stockers (as opposed to lurkers). The web can be a dangerous place for young people, and they do need some guidance.


Meesh said...

GREAT BLOG! :) Thank you.

You know... we tell kids not to have unprotected sex, we tell them to study and go to school, and we tell them to pay attention when they are driving a 10-ton hunk of steel, and they don't listen! Now someone else is telling them the most obvious thing of all: EVERYONE CAN SEE YOUR MYSPACE! Duh!

Anne Cressy said...

I see social mores changing. What was considered outrageous when I was young is now a norm...these children are creating a new norm.

There is something to be said for making sure that children are well informed about internet risks, but fear mongering does nothing but insure that they have to go see what the fuss is all about.

Maybe parents could learn a new trick and do some internet surfing online to find out what their children are up to?

a very public sociologist said...

Lol, time to make some deft edits to my Facebook page methinks!

What is interesting about this from a sociological point of view is how surveillance has become self-organising. At this point in time, it's actually fashionable for young people (and a few of us who aren't so young, but like to pretend we're still down with the kids) to hand over personal info to private companies for them to display on the internet for nearly all and sundry to see. If the government asked us to do that, can you imagine the uproar?

Chazza said...

I thought it was the whole point of having a blog or posting things on Myspace and Facebook: to be read.
This being said, I'm still surprised about the kind of things you get to read and see on these websites - and not necessarily from 14-21 years olds only! There must be loads of 'adults' who "might regret that heartfelt blog confession" too. It's all to do with common sense really.

David Crofts Munro said...

Some frightening statistics there, my friend. Thank you for bringing them to my attention.

Shall make a point of stopping by your blog again in the near future.

Shaun said...

Agreed! I've heard of employers striking vengence on employees...

Those who blog should thread cautiously!

** Shaun **
My awesome blog:


Tom said...

The issue is not that they don't know it is public, most children know this, and assume they'll be able to withdraw information. It is an issue concerning the responsibility Myspace owner Rupert Murdoch has to the privacy of the young Myspace users. By allowing government, educational and employment agencies access to internet histories, they are infringing on the boundaries of human privacy, shouldn't there be a way for young people to communicate with new technologies without fear of being spied on?

D said...

Children are not capable of making adult decisions. They do not understand the concepts of adult life, this why they are considered to be under the care of adults. I am a teacher and I have seen my students post very personal information, say that they are looking for love or whatever. When I told them I looked around, they then asked, "Isn't that an invasion of privacy?" It's only private if it's in your backpack, not if it's on the internet for literally the whole world to see. As much as we tell them to be careful, to get good grades, to work, to practice, they often don't listen until something bad happens. They post that they just didn't feel like going to class, this gets them into a little bit of trouble.