Growing up Cyber: Generation Z and Online Privacy

by Laura Bruck November 22, 2015
November 22, 2015

Generation Z

Teaching your teens about technology probably sounds like the making of a bad joke. As a parent of Generation Z, I know firsthand that my kids will out tweet, out snap and out share me any day of the week. After all, it’s practically hard-coded in their DNA.

Generation Z, born between 1995 and 2010, has never known a world without the Internet. Researchers have crowned them the most diverse, engaged and tech-savvy generation thus far. And while most can give you a crash course in adjusting your Facebook privacy settings, it’s important not to take their cyber know-how for granted — after all, they are still young.

So let’s examine where Generation Z excels in privacy and offer advice on where these future leaders might need a friendly nudge in the right direction.

Good news! Generation Z steers clear of the dreaded, “Password123.” Instead, they ditch passwords and opt for biometrics. Visa reports three-quarters would feel comfortable using biometric security and 69% believe it will be faster and easier than passwords and PINs.

Give them a boost by recommending they use dual-factor authentication, when possible, to more effectively secure financial and social media accounts. Dual-factor authentication requires two verification methods, typically a password and a confirmation request sent via text or email.

Messaging Apps
Teens have grown disinterested with texting and opt for anonymous messaging apps instead. Apps like Kik and WhatsApp offer a more casual cyberspace to interact anonymously using usernames rather than identifying phone numbers or names. While most teens have good intentions, there are notable concerns associated with these apps.

Give them a boost by teaching your kids about cybersecurity threats and the undeniable law of the Internet — once you click “send,” your message is out there forever. Messaging apps are known for phishing scams, including bots that send malicious links to users at random. Encourage them to exercise caution and use critical thinking when sending and receiving messages.

Generational researchers credit Generation Z with having an acute knowledge of cybercrime, such as bullying, identity theft and intellectual property theft. How could they not? Many school assemblies are filled with topics of sexting, cyber bullying and illegally downloading music. But it’s important to remember, these threats aren’t always in the hands of young people.

Give them a boost by encouraging them to not let social media profiles get too personal, as it is one of the primary ways cybercriminals can exploit them. Did you know? With just your birthdate and place of birth, an identity thief can make a pretty good guess as to what your Social Security number could be. Share this information with your favorite teen to make them think about what personal details could be more revealing than they initially imagined.

Social Media Privacy
Once their parents were on Facebook, Generation Z became experts in adjusting their privacy settings for fear of embarrassing baby pictures popping up on their friends’ newsfeeds. They are well versed in how to hide information and what to do when something just doesn’t feel right. Case in point, 74 percent of teen social media users have deleted people from their networks.

Give them a boost by encouraging less user friendly security measures, like restricting geotagging. Geotagging, which includes where a post was made, is popular on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. This feature adds to the social experience — but at the cost of privacy and safety.

Where do you think Generation Z excels in cyberspace? Do you think they need any extra boosts in terms of securing their online identities? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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