Generation Y and the Challenge of Sharing Information Online

By Stephanie Nguyen | Jul 26, 2010
More Articles by Stephanie

Photobucket We label generations to classify monumental changes, trends, and significant milestones in history. Those born during the birth of the home computer, the rise of video games, Star Wars and Motley Crue can typically be classified as those who lie in Generation X. But wait. What about Generation Y?

Interestingly enough, most Generation Y children (including me) grew up submerged in the realm of social media and online information sharing. I remember how sparkly MySpace layouts, the highly coveted position on one’s top 8 and the brief life inspirations and quotes that drowned Xanga pages easily became an excuse for me to plead “10 more minutes” before going to sleep. According to a study from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center, “Generation Y Millennials will continue their current habit of sharing large amounts of personal information online as they age.” Of course there are positives of such behavior; creating bonds, friendships, and networks, and even introducing a bit of html coding when changing one’s backgrounds and main font colors. However, this openness has larger negative effects hidden beneath the sparkly surface.

As the indexed social media like Twitter enters into the search engine kingdom and Real-Time search results for SEO, information can be more widespread and available than one had originally hoped. In fact, Janet Driscoll Miller believes that it’s only a matter of time “before search engines begin indexing Facebook and status updates”. You think you have scoured your Facebook privacy and account settings to control how much information is revealed about you. And now you’re safe from overexposure to the wrong people, right? The challenge is how to filter pictures and information that your friends post about you which can still be indexed and published into search engine results. It is possible that the openly sharing Generation Y may not think of these repercussions since they’ve grown up with the ease of sharing such information. But without protecting their profiles, they are also putting their friends at risk.

Just this week, the NBC 12 news reporting team from Richmond, Va., shared a story: “How Private is your Facebook Page?”, sharing “8 Facebook Don’ts” for you to focus on your own account. This information is crucial as search engines are moving into the direction of indexing social networking websites.

The reality of such developments, as earth shattering and generation defining as it is just means that we must acknowledge the expansion of SEO and search results into social media. Think of others as well as yourself. Whether you’re generation X, Y (and dare I say Z?), we must learn to manage ourselves and our urge to sometimes share too much (often accidentally) with too many.

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