Conflicting Online Realities: 73% of Gen Z Wish Parents Asked Permission Before Posting About Them
But only 34% of parents do – reflecting a complex generation gap around privacy and security
1Password, the leader in human-centric security and privacy, and Malwarebytes, a global leader in real-time cyber protection, today released their joint report titled, Forever connected: the realities of parenting and growing up online, which explores perceptions from Gen Z (13-25 year olds) and parents regarding privacy and security. The report found deep generational differences around standards for social media and security behaviors, reflecting a complex landscape for a fully online generation and their parents.
Key findings underscored the challenges of today’s consent culture: 73% of Gen Z wish their parents would ask permission before posting pics of them online, while only 34% of parents actually do so – and 39% feel they don’t need permission. Both are frustrated with the minefields of social sharing: nearly three-quarters (72%) of parents said they were glad they didn’t have social media during their childhood and three in 10 (35%) of Gen Z wish they had waited until they were older to start using social media.
“Kids and parents are navigating new territory as we all attempt to sort out today’s digital-first world. Helping the next generation become independent has always been complicated, and it’s even more complex online – from social media use to our increased dependence on our devices,” said Sara Teare, co-founder of 1Password. “Just like teaching anything new, from brushing those first few teeth to learning to drive, parents have the responsibility to model and teach smart online behavior to lessen the endless security risks that can have real-world ramifications.”
The Permission Problem
Today, the internet can immortalize online behavior, making it impossible to escape a post that may have seemed funny five years ago but appears cringe today. Nearly half (47%) of Gen Z feel that a harmful effect of the internet is that “anything you do follows you forever.” In response, experts, parents and their children are exploring how to manage privacy for minors who are too young to consent to social sharing.
- Online since birth. Four out of five (79%) parents post images, videos or personal information about their kids online. And 39% say it’s fine to start posting images of their kids as soon as they’re born.
- Parental posting puts kids at risk. One in 10 (11%) Gen Z say they’ve been stalked or bullied because of something they or their parents posted online. And one in 10 (12%) say they’ve been hurt in other ways from online activity, such as personal account hacks, harmed credit scores or stolen identities.
- The dangers of the internet. Nearly all parents and Gen Z (96% and 93%) agree that using the internet can have harmful effects. Cyberbullying (73% of parents, 66% of Gen Z), misinformation (65% of parents, 64% of Gen Z) and phishing/scams (62% of parents, 60% of Gen Z) were the top perceived threats.
Household Security Experts: Gen Z vs. Parents
Traditional parent-children disagreements around street smarts have poured over into the digital realm. Nearly seven in 10 (69%) parents feel they have excellent online safety and privacy habits, yet less than half (47%) of Gen Z agree. Moreover, 62% of Gen Z say they know more about online safety and security than their parents do.
- Self-taught security. Most Gen Z say they’ve learned about online safety and security on their own (59%) rather than through parents (21%) or school (13%). Nine in 10 (91%) of Gen Z say they have personal practices to stay safe online.
- Problematic security advice. A vast majority of Gen Z (70%) say their parents taught them password advice, though not all of it is good advice, like making easy-to-remember passwords (30%) and using the same password for everything (17%).
- Conflicting sense of reality. Nearly nine in 10 (89%) parents say they monitor their child’s activity, yet 66% of teens say their parents have no involvement in their online accounts.
- Stealthy workarounds. Almost three-quarters (72%) of Gen Z admit to having tactics to avoid their parents’ online monitoring. Some take extreme measures to avoid detection, with 13% using a virtual private network (VPN), 9% having a secret device their parents don’t know about and 6% going so far as to factory reset their devices.
“Many young people and parents have conflicting views of how to protect themselves while using social media – in no small part because parents aren’t aware of best practices, and young people teach themselves online security more often than parents realize,” said Jason Kelly, associate director of digital strategy and activism at Electronic Frontier Foundation. “There is a clear need, based on these results, for more nuanced and more comprehensive digital literacy education for both children and parents.”
“For teenagers and children today, the Internet dominates much of their lives. As cybersecurity vendors, we have long understood the importance of protecting everyone from online attacks, but as the Internet has expanded, so too have our responsibilities,” said Marcin Kleczynski, CEO of Malwarebytes. “We must recognize that families need many forms of support, from simple-to-use cyber protection to helpful guidance and education in keeping kids safe, private, and, eventually, independent online.”
For more information, read the full report.
1Password’s human-centric approach to security keeps people safe, at work and at home. Our solution is built from the ground up to enable anyone – no matter the level of technical proficiency – to navigate the digital world without fear or friction. The company’s award-winning credentials management security platform is re-shaping the future of authentication and is trusted by over 100,000 businesses, including IBM, Slack, Snowflake, Shopify and Under Armour. 1Password protects the most sensitive information of millions of individuals and families across the globe, helping consumers and businesses get more done in less time – with security and privacy as a given. Learn more at 1Password.com.
Malwarebytes believes that when people and organizations are free from threats, they are free to thrive. Founded in 2008, Malwarebytes CEO Marcin Kleczynski had one mission: to rid the world of malware. Today, that mission has expanded to provide cyber-protection for everyone. Malwarebytes provides consumers and organizations with device protection, privacy, and prevention through effective, intuitive, and inclusive solutions in the home, on-the-go, at work, or on campus. A world-class team of threat researchers and security experts enable Malwarebytes to protect millions of customers and combat existing and never-before-seen threats using artificial intelligence and machine learning to catch new threats rapidly. With threat hunters and innovators across the world, the company is headquartered in California with offices in Europe and Asia. For more information, visit https://www.malwarebytes.com/.
Malwarebytes and 1Password conducted this research using online surveys prepared by Method Research and distributed by Dynata among n=1,000 Gen Z respondents and n=1,000 parents. Gen Z respondents were ages 13-25 with n=750 from the United States and n=250 from Canada. Parent respondents had at least one child between the ages of 8 to 17 with n=750 from the United States and n=250 from Canada. Both samples were equally split between gender, with a spread of ages, child’s ages and geographies represented, including readable race groups. Data was collected from August 3 to August 16, 2022.