Gen Z and online privacy: not what you think

Gal Ringel
4
min read

<hl>From A to Z, Forget Everything You Believe About Gen Z and Online Privacy.<hl>

Every generation has its own point of view and approach towards technology. Gen Z, which includes those born between the years 1995-2010, brings a unique perspective when it comes to the issue of online behavior in general, and online privacy in particular. This is a generation of digital natives, who never knew a world without Google and grew up holding a smartphone and taking selfies. Understanding the minds of younger generations is always somewhat of a struggle, but as we examine this specific group, we learn that things are not at all as we expected.

Gen Z and privacy

It’s important that we get things right when it comes to this generation because, as Gen Z now enters the workforce, they soon will account for 40% of all US consumers. Their spending power, which is valued at $143 billion, is about to have a massive influence on pretty much any business sector we can think of. Money talks, and Gen Z’s capital has a few interesting comments to make about online privacy.

Myth #1: Gen Z has no expectations about their privacy

Some people believe that being digital natives means that Gen Zers didn’t experience a loss of privacy and consider this lack of boundaries a natural part of their world. This notion of disregard for their privacy is far from accurate. Research shows there are quite a few things Gen Z members don’t feel comfortable sharing, and they are far more selective and careful about the sort of information they send out into the world than one might think. For instance, location data is a sensitive topic for these young people, with 64% stating that they don’t feel comfortable sharing that information. The countless companies and apps tracking their location at any given moment may want to keep that in mind.

Myth #2: They trade their privacy for likes and shares

Sure, Gen Z members share a lot of information online, but do we really think that online popularity is so important to them it would completely replace the fundamental concept of private information?! Well, think again, because less than 20% stated that getting ‘likes’ is more important to them than keeping certain things private.

If anything, these digital natives know more about privacy settings than generations before them and feel very comfortable controlling and adjusting them according to their personal preferences. The result is a whopping 79% who change their privacy settings to limit the information they share and 60% who set their Facebook profile privacy to ‘Friends Only.’

Myth #3: Gen Zers are indifferent about companies using their personal data

While members of this generation understand that every web search and online purchase is being monitored and recorded, that’s not OK with them. If you thought the Gen Z attitude towards online privacy could be described using the shrugging emoji, please know that nearly 70% of today’s teens expect brands and websites to ask for permission before using their data.

We must remember that this generation’s purchasing behavior is highly influenced by the values they support and their personal belief system. More than ever before, the way companies behave online might cause irreversible damage to how their existing and potential customers view their brand.

Gen Z and online privacy

Myth #4: They underestimate the value of their personal data

We’ve mentioned that likes and shares are not enough of an incentive for this age group, but Gen Zers are willing to become more flexible about their information, just as long as they feel like they get enough value in return. They know the value of their data, and they are not shy of demanding something worthwhile in return.

Almost half of Gen Z consumers will provide personal data to brands if they use it to create a more personal, tailored experience. This is excellent news for brands, but we must still remember that the ideas of consent and transparency require that brands explain why they need this specific data and how it is about to be used.

Myth #5: Gen Z has no data security standards

Even though hackers have become an integral part of Gen Z members' world, this does not mean that they are less feared by them. It’s interesting to note that while different age groups vary in their approach towards many aspects of technology, the one thing everyone agrees on is that cybersecurity and protecting their online data is highly important.

This generation knows better than to click every link in every email and understands that no “Nigerian Prince” just randomly gives strangers his money. The same approach is evident when examining their feelings regarding brands and websites breaching their privacy without consent or selling their data to third parties. The severity of these actions is finally being viewed for what it is - a serious violation of their rights.

Just because this specific age group feels more comfortable around technology and quickly adjusts to new innovations, that doesn’t mean that they will accept anything if it contradicts what is known to be right. With the right technologies at Gen Z’s service, brands, and websites who ignore these signs are about to learn that users are now back in the driver’s seat and are reclaiming their data.