Youth, Privacy, and Online Media

As you read this article, reflect on how our expectations of privacy have changed over the past few generations. After you read, take some time to think about the activities you engage in that could be subject to data collection. Does this bother you? What do you do to limit the data collected from your online activity? Write an essay of two or three paragraphs summarizing your thoughts.

The Danish focus group study "Teens' private and public lives on social media": Methodology

The role of social media in everyday life

"One's life is not just pictured on Facebook. It is Facebook"

The study aimed to understand the role that online media play in the lives of young people via a cluster of questions related to the respondents perceptions and use of social media. The interviewed portrayed social media (Facebook in particular) as the central platform to communicate with friends and to keep up with social and school activities. They depicted themselves as "always on" via their smart phone, and described social media as an integral part of their lives. Thus, social media acted as the infrastructure of young people's everyday lives used for several purposes from entertainment, maintenance of social networks to 'staying updated' on social events in the network. Moreover, general 'social information' search and relationships with other people were also reinforced and confirmed via social media. For example, as explained by several respondents you are not truly a couple until it has been announced on Facebook. The respondents highlighted the personal investment which their social media profiles represent, and pictured their Facebook profile as an extension of themselves. As one 17-year-old boy described it, when picturing the scenario that Facebook one day would close down: "... it is kind of like you have invested so much time in it and so much focus on how you present yourself. And this is your friends. So it's kind of like a project. It's part of you. So it's a bit like not being able to talk. It's a tool of communication which is very integrated in you". But perhaps most importantly the respondents view their social media profiles as an integrated part of their identity: "One's life is not just pictured on Facebook. It is Facebook". (boy, 17 years old)

The respondents mentioned Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat as widely used social media services, with Facebook as the key platform from which virtually all communication originates. All of the interviewed had a profile on Facebook and shared a common expectation of being reachable via Facebook: "It is kind of expected that everyone has a Facebook profile. That you can communicate with everyone there. You kind of expect that" (girl, 17 years old). For the respondents, Facebook had become the primary channel of social information and the most utilized way to organize and spread information. Thus, if you want to participate socially you need to be on Facebook: "There is a party at the school tomorrow. It might be announced on the school's website, but no one has checked it out there. Everyone is invited for an event on Facebook. So it's also used for practical information. For example that tickets can be bought on a website. And that is not mentioned on the school's website" (boy, 17 years old). It was also stressed that Facebook has taken over much of the communication that was previously exchanged via text messaging (SMS): "... if I want to contact a friend I don't use SMS anymore. You kind of expect that everyone has Facebook ... this is why I actually only use SMS to communicate with my parents. Because I'm not friends with them on Facebook" (boy, 16 years old).