2008 Online Safety Survey

In the spring of 2008 RT Strategies conducted a survey for Consumer Policy Solutions examining current online trends, behaviors and perceptions. The purpose of the survey was to gain a better understanding of consumers’ online safety knowledge, practices and emerging concerns.

In our increasingly wired world, Internet users spanning every generation are turning to the Internet to communicate, socialize, pay bills and manage everyday affairs at an exponential rate. Whether they go online for entertainment or are driven there by the convenience of shopping, searching for movie showtimes and other daily tasks, consumers are creating—sometimes unknowingly—very detailed profiles of themselves with every click of a button.

Here are some very interesting findings from the survey:

The survey demonstrated different age groups have vastly different expectations and perceptions about online privacy.

Online Safety and privacy are the highest ranked concerns among wired adults.

  • 95 percent feel that Internet safety is a very important or somewhat important issue to them
  • 97 percent feel that protecting personal privacy is very or somewhat important to them
  • 56 percent feel they do not have enough or no privacy at all online
  • Across generations, protecting personal privacy is very or somewhat important to 99 percent of Older Americans, 98 percent of parents and 93 percent of teens

Teenage users are the least concerned about a lack of online privacy but the most concerned about the negative consequences.

  • Teens are the most worried about sexual predators, strangers and stalkers, and computer viruses. 58 percent of teens, however, feel that they have more than enough or just enough privacy
  • Teens did not include “personal information” as one of the top three items they associate with computer/cyber security
  • Teens are the most likely group to invite other web users to know more about them—they are more likely to post pictures of themselves or biographical information

If teens are potentially some of the most vulnerable to releasing their privacy online, but also the least concerned, this large (largest) group of online users could face significant consequences down the “web” road.

Parents and teens in the same household have different ideas about how much parents know about what their teen is doing online.

  • 52 percent of parents say they sit alongside their teenager whenever they are online to monitor activity; but only 33% of teens in those same households confirm that
  • 51 percent of parents say they visit their teen’s social networking site; 30% of teens confirm that

In this Web 2.0 world, being online seems to be more and more of a necessity. Consumers are going online for almost every aspect of daily life that used to be done by telephone or paper – or face to face. What are the implications of this for consumers? For society? When we’re online, how do we ensure that we are in charge of the information collected about us and how it is used?

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