Reminding Youth about Public Access to Information

I thought this study, featured in the New York Daily News, was quite clever. The beginning of the research is simple enough: Author Dr. Megan Moreno analyzed 190 public profiles of young persons aged 18-20. Not too surprisingly, she found that all of their pages included three or more references to sex, drinking, drug use or smoking. Ho-hum. Most research stops there and sounds out the alarm.

What happened next was simple, neat, and full of useful implications. After seeing the profiles, “Dr. Meg” sent each of the MySpace subscribers an email which read “You seemed to be quite open about sexual issues or other behaviors such as drinking or smoking. Are you sure that’s a good idea? … You might consider revising your page to better protect your privacy.” And guess what? After three months, 42% of those receiving the message either removed the material or changed their profile setting to “private” so that only their friends could see their information.

Neat, huh? This just shows that with a little nudge, young people can understand how their private information posted in a public forum can and is seen by unwanted parties. And a simple reminder, they will change their behavior.

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