Elon University

The 2010 Survey: Responses to a tension pair on the willingness of Millennials to share information in the future

Responses to this 2020 scenario were assembled from Internet stakeholders in the 2010 Pew Internet & American Life/Elon University Future of the Internet Survey. Some respondents chose to identify themselves; many did not. We share some—not all—of the responses here. Workplaces of respondents who shared their identity are attributed only for the purpose of indicating a level of expertise; statements reflect personal views. 

Future of Millennials Survey CoverThis page includes responses to a question about people’s perceptions of the likely future of Millennials’ online sharing by 2020. This is one of 10 questions raised by the 2010 Elon UniversityPew Internet survey of technology experts and social analysts. Results on this question were first released by Pew Internet Director Lee Rainie and Imagining the Internet Director Janna Anderson in July 2010.

The “digital natives” of Generation Y, also sometimes referred to as Millennials or digital natives, are known to be prolific sharers of personal information online. According to technology experts and stakeholders, these tech-savvy young people will continue their online social habits as they get older and take on more responsibilities. The results of this survey of nearly 900 people indicate that they believe the advantages Millennials see in personal disclosure will continue to outweigh concerns about privacy as they age.

To download a news release, click here.

To download the Pew Internet briefing, click here.

predictions for the millennials internet chart

To read the responses of anonymous participants to this question, click here.

In a survey about the likely future impact of the internet, a solid majority of technology experts and stakeholders said the Millennial generation will lead society into a new world of personal disclosure and information-sharing using new media. These experts said the communications patterns “digital natives” have already embraced through their use of social networking technology and other social technology tools will carry forward even as Millennials age, form families, and move up the economic ladder.

The highly engaged, diverse set of respondents to an online, opt-in survey included 895 technology stakeholders and critics. The study was fielded by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center.

Some 67% agreed with the statement:
“By 2020, members of Generation Y (today’s “digital natives”) will continue to be ambient broadcasters who disclose a great deal of personal information in order to stay connected and take advantage of social, economic, and political opportunities. Even as they mature, have families, and take on more significant responsibilities, their enthusiasm for widespread information sharing will carry forward.” 

Some 29% agreed with the opposite statement, which posited:
“By 2020, members of Generation Y (today’s “digital natives”) will have “grown out” of much of their use of social networks, multiplayer online games and other time-consuming, transparency-engendering online tools. As they age and find new interests and commitments, their enthusiasm for widespread information sharing will abate.”

Most of those surveyed noted that the disclosure of personal information online carries many social benefits as people open up to others in order to build friendships, form and find communities, seek help, and build their reputations. They said Millennials have already seen the benefits and will not reduce their use of these social tools over the next decade as they take on more responsibilities while growing older.

The majority argued in answers to the survey that new social norms that reward disclosure are already in place among the young The experts also expressed hope that society will be more forgiving of those whose youthful mistakes are on display in social media such as Facebook picture albums or YouTube videos.

Some said new definitions of “private” and “public” information are taking shape in networked society. They argued that this means that Millennials might change the kinds of personal information they share as they age, but the aging process will not fundamentally change the incentives to share.

At the same time, some experts said an awkward trial-and-error period is unfolding and will continue over the next decade, as people adjust to new realities about how social networks perform and as new boundaries are set about the personal information that is appropriate to share.

Nearly 30 percent of respondents disagreed with the majority, most of them noting that life stages and milestones do matter and do prompt changes in behavior. They cited an array of factors that they believe will compel Millennials to pull back on their free-wheeling lifecasting, including: fears that openness about their personal lives might damage their professional lives, greater seriousness in dating and family formation as people age, and the arrival of children in their lives.

Among other things, many of the dissenting experts also said Millennials will not have as much time in the future to devote to popular activities such as frequently posting to the world at large on YouTube, Twitter or Facebook about the nitty-gritty of their lives.

Respondents’ thoughts

Survey participants were encouraged to “Explain your choice and share your view about the future of human lifestyles in 2020 – what is likely to stay the same and what will be different? Will the values and practices that characterize today’s younger Internet users change over time?” The following is a small selection of the hundreds of written elaborations, organized according to some of the major themes that emerged in the answers:

A fundamental shift is occurring in human identity and activity in communities. As often is the case, some of it is driven by social change that is facilitated by technological change, especially the new capabilities offered by mobile devices. The benefits to people of sharing information and disclosing details about themselves are becoming more evident. These perceived benefits will change over time as Millennials’ interests change, but the general pattern for disclosure will remain. The historic pattern is for each generation to change the boundaries of privacy and identity.

• “Although I am a privacy scholar, and one who has been taken aback by the careless abandon with which the young, and not so young seem to revel in visibility, I have to assume that it is not merely ignorance that leads so many astray. To the best of their knowledge, the benefits outweigh the costs. And besides, there is this industry that continues, and will continue to make it seem almost normal to be so completely accessible. I can’t imagine the kind of well-publicized catastrophe, or counter-movement that would arise (well, I can, but I wouldn’t want dwell on those scenarios) that would lead to less, rather than more disclosure.” Oscar Gandy, author, activist, retired emeritus professor of communication, University of Pennsylvania

• “Publicy will replace privacy. Privacy will appear quaint, like wearing gloves and veils in church.” Stowe Boyd, social networks specialist, analyst, activist, blogger, futurist and researcher; president of Microsyntax.org, a non-profit and director of 301Works.org

• “I’m no digital native but I have taken on a publicness in my life and received great benefit in return. I wrote about my diagnosis of, surgery for, and recovery from prostate cancer, even to the point of discussing my incontinence and impotence on my blog under the headline, ‘The penis post.’ It doesn’t get much more transparent than that. Yet because of that, I received not only much support but also invaluable information from brave and generous patients who went before me; that was possible only because I revealed myself. I also inspired others to tell their stories and to get screening for the disease. I learned these benefits from the digital culture and I am confident that its so-called natives understand these benefits in their DNA. So I am convinced that publicness will continue. Not only that, but I believe that publicness will be seen as a public good and even necessity. When we share our data about our diseases and treatments, we add to a body of knowledge that can help others in our position. I believe that keeping such information to oneself will one day be seen as antisocial.” Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do? and an associate professor and director of the interactive journalism program at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism

• “As the generation ages, they will inevitably have more to keep them away from the computer (like babies) and will share less instant-to-instant data. But at the same time, they’ll share more photos, they’ll keep at least minimal online diaries, and they’ll use social media, because they are tools in their daily life.” Charlie Martin, correspondent and science and technology editor, Pajamas Media, technical writer, PointSource Communications, correspondent, Edgelings.com

• “Millennials will routinely engage in ubiquitous social networking, having seen that competitive edge it brings them in business and politics. It will be the norm in personal relationships. I wish I could keep up with them.” —Craig Newmark, founder and customer service representative, Craigslist, former software engineer and programmer at companies such as JustInTime Solutions, Bank of America and IBM

• “GenY will maintain this spirit of openness and sharing of personal information. Their enthusiasm may wane more from work and family pressures rather than concerns about privacy. Also the focus will likely change from teenage introspection to areas of hobbies, sports, community issues, etc.” Bill St. Arnaud, chief research officer at CANARIE, Inc. and member of the Internet Society board of trustees

• “The human maturation process does not change because of a new technology. Starting before we left the savannahs, the young members of Homo sapiens have over-shared in order to make themselves socially interesting to the group and to potential mates, only to discover the enormous risks involved when shared information reaches malicious individuals or a group at large, at which point they have re-learned the discretion of their parents. Thus sharing on the Internet will continue on its present trajectory: more will be shared by the young than the old, and as people mature they will share more banal and less intimate information.” Andreas Kluth, California correspondent, The Economist

• “Sharing is not ‘the new black,’ it is the new normal. There are too many benefits to living with a certain degree of openness for Digital Natives to ‘grow out of it.’ Job opportunities, new personal connections, professional collaboration, learning from others’ experiences, etc., are all very powerful benefits to engaging openly with others online, and this is something that Gen Y understands intuitively. When Gen Y gives birth to their first ‘Gen Z’ child, they will not close themselves off to the world, they will post pictures, videos and anecdotes not only to share their happiness, but to elicit tips from their social grid on how to deal with the challenges of parenthood. The same goes for other aspects of their life: Which car to buy? Which recipe to use? Which book to read or movie to watch?” Matt Gallivan, senior research analyst, audience insight and research, National Public Radio (US)

• “Since it is easier to stay in touch with friends from school, more people will stay in touch. Social networking will play a larger role in education and work, and not be limited to a purely leisure-time activity.” Hal Varian, chief economist of Google and on the faculty at the University of California-Berkeley

• “The willingness of digital natives to share information is ingrained into their makeup. Similar to those who lived through the depression in the US have an ingrained thriftiness. While this may erode over time, they will continue to be open and willing to share. However, their children will shift in the other direction being far more closed in terms of information-sharing.” —Michael Nelson, visiting professor of Internet studies at Georgetown University, formerly a director of technology policy with IBM Corporation and the Federal Communications Commission

• “Today’s youths who are sharing far more information more widely than previous generations will no doubt share less than now, but they will not retreat to the low levels of previous generations. In fact, their parents seem to share more than their grandparents did – when I began working, most people discussed politics and other topics in the workplace far less than I see people doing today, in similar environments.” Jonathan Grudin, principal researcher in human-computer interaction and computer-supported cooperative work at Microsoft Research

• “You ain’t seen nothing yet.” Fred Hapgood, technology author and consultant, moderator of the Nanosystems Interest Group at MIT in the 1990s, writes for Wired, Discover and other tech publications

• “The trend to utilize social media to share information will continue to grow through 2020. In fact, these social media are becoming indispensable tools for connecting with other, accomplishing goals, and solving problems. I see the new media becoming more institutionalized and adopted by workplaces, schools, governments, and social organizations as primary channels for communication in the future.” Gary Kreps, professor and chair of the department of communication, George Mason University

• “While we are at a time of adolescent performance of self regardless of our chronological ages, I expect that the benefits of disclosure will continue to outweigh the negative sides.” Paul Jones, conference co-chair, WWW2010, clinical associate professor, School of Information and Library Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, director, ibiblio

• “This behaviour is now so widespread it has become a way of life. I don’t see it changing in the future.” Luc Faubert, president of dDocs Information, Inc., consultant in IT governance and change management

• “The so-called digital natives have confused views about information sharing. But by and large, they take for granted very broad forms of personal communication. That comfort level will not go away, even as they get older.” Kevin Werbach, founder of Supernova and assistant professor at the Wharton School of Business, former counsel for new technology policy at the FCC

• “The habits of our formative years tend to stay in place, even though we may view them in a more mature fashion. So, although there may be a reduction in the trivia currently shared, the principle of sharing will remain ingrained. It will also be better managed, through improved applications.” Adrian Schofield, manager, applied research unit, Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering, president, Computer Society South Africa

• “Today’s digital natives have developed habits of mind and behavior that will be very resistant to change. Nevertheless, change there will be, from two sides: life-cycle factors and evolving attitudes to privacy. As Millennials begin to deal with kids and other adult responsibilities, I see them trading in some of their real-time communication (texting, IM, etc) for more store-and-forward options. Instead of spending a lot less time-sharing information, they’ll share it differently. A more subtle life-cycle factor concerns a deep qualitative difference between today’s 20-somethings and their parents’ generation. I imagine a great many Millennials are using social software to expedite the process of ‘finding themselves’ (not by conscious planning of course). While this pursuit isn’t new, digital media offer powerful ways to experiment with socially constructed identities we weren’t even dreaming of in the 60s. It seems plausible that becoming an ‘adult’ will take away some of the playful experimentation behind all that Millennial information-sharing. Then there’s privacy. The demise of online privacy is already well underway. Financial scams, lousy software, human error and prejudicial EULAs are here to stay. What I see changing is a greater awareness among mainstream onliners of just how extensive the risks are to our privacy, money and identities. I’m constantly amazed at the extent to which otherwise sane, intelligent people are dismissive of precautions like strong passwords. By 2020, lots more onliners will have learned about the downside of unrestricted information-sharing. Being an adult means having more to protect and more to lose. But this predictable change will be reinforced by a long, slow learning curve for millions of onliners who have very little understanding of what goes on in cyberspace.” David Ellis, director of communication studies at York University, Toronto, and author of the first Canadian book on the roots of the Internet

• “If we assume the behaviour changes we see in our societies concerning how people wish to consume and create content continue, as well as how the means with which they consume and create continue to evolve, then it seems to me almost inevitable that Gen Y will continue to embrace those means, reflecting their natures and behaviours we see now. There will also be pressure from the generation behind them, so I’m sure we’ll see more ‘ambient broadcasting’ and connectivity between people especially with mobile devices, thus driving even more such communication as it can take place anywhere, any time.” —Neville Hobson, head of social media in Europe for WCG Group and principal of NevilleHobson.com

It is true that Millennials have what might be considered by some in today’s society to be liberal views about sharing their information, but the privacy paradigm is evolving and people may be more forgiving of others’ indiscretions in the future.

• “Most certainly, I’m shocked at how much people share online, and their future employers and potential significant others will be as well, I suspect.” Chris DiBona, open source and public sector engineering manager at Google

• “The e-world will become more open and less private, but the excess of today’s college students will diminish with age and responsibility. However, as they age, they will be much more open than their parents have been.” Don McLagan, member of the board of directors for the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange, consultant, retired chief executive officer of Compete, Inc.

• “By 2020 it will become increasingly clear that while privacy is the refuge of criminals and politicians, protection of personal data does not increase safety, but merely propagates a false sense of security. Sharing will be widely seen as a defense against the sort of world that existed in the past, where only the rich and multinationals had access to personal data on a widespread scale, and used it exclusively to serve their own interests through marketing media campaigns, cherry-picking of insurance (especially driving and health insurance) clients, employment and wage offers, and more. As access to personal data becomes more widespread (mostly, at first, through the actions of hackers, but also though sharing on personal sites and social networks) it will become clear that security cannot depend on secrecy, but rather, that laws will need to be in force to prevent the misuse of data. Campaigns will propose that the denial (or overcharging) of insurance on the basis of pre-existing illnesses or genetic predisposition, for example, will be outlawed, or that hiring or firing practices based on a person’s personal lifestyle will be prohibited. It will be clear by 2020 that everybody has, if you will, skeletons (or nude pics or infidelities) in the closet, and it will be seen as absurd to make morality judgments based on these. In an ideal world, denying a person life or livelihood on the basis of these will be seen as a form of extortion, and condemned by society at large.” Stephen Downes, senior research officer, National Research Council of Canada, and specialist in online learning, new media, pedagogy and philosophy

• “The younger people will continue their public disclosure of what older people think of private behavior. In many ways this represents a shift to an acceptance of universal human failings – without the judgment of older people. They watch a Tiger Woods embarrassment and are amused, not shocked. They are just less hypocritical and more accepting of the reality of human behavior. Thus they enjoy reading about each others’ lives, celebrity lives, and see very little damage when someone makes a ‘human’ mistake.” Ed Lyell, professor at Adams State College, consultant for using telecommunications to improve school effectiveness through the creation of 21st century learning communities

• “The hysteria that currently surrounds information-sharing online will fade when such disclosure becomes commonplace. The moral forces in our societies will – indeed, have to – become more forgiving of youthful transgressions. After all, human behavior hasn’t changed. The thing that’s changed is the ability to record it and share it with potential millions. A great majority of us have had a wild spring break trip as a teenager. Future employers will recognize that such behavior is not an indication of adult professionalism in the workplace.” —Janelle Ward, assistant professor, Department of Media and Communication, Erasmus University Rotterdam

• “My guess is that people will continue to share as much as they do now. After all, once they’ve put so much about themselves up on their sites, what good would it do to stop? In for a penny; in for a pound. Social norms will evolve to accept more candor. After all, Ronald Reagan got elected president despite having gone through a divorce, and Bill Clinton got elected despite having smoked marijuana. Society’s expectations evolve.” —Andy Oram, editor and blogger, O’Reilly Media

• “Unless Generation Y has a collective privacy-related epiphany, they will continue to happily trade it for convenience.” Gervase Markham, a programmer for the Mozilla Foundation since 1999, based in the UK; won a Google/O’Reilly Open Source Award as the “best community activist” in 2006

• “In this case it will depend on still younger generations and their use of new technologies that I think are likely to make today’s ‘digital natives’ seem, well, backwards. Just as today’s parents seem like dinosaurs to their kids, so today’s kids will seem to their kids when it comes to technology. In other words, every generation of youth will freak out the corresponding generation of adults (or so I hope).” Steve Jones, professor of communication and associate dean of liberal arts and sciences and co-founder of the Association of Internet Researchers, University of Illinois-Chicago

• “The social media habits of digital natives are likely set for life, with the exception of some fundamental shift in technology or law that would require them to change those habits. We should not be surprised if the next generation thereafter exhibits different patterns of behavior, perhaps being more selective in how they construct their circle of online contacts. ‘Mom, I can’t believe you posted pictures of yourself doing a keg stand for just anyone to see!’” —Nathaniel James, now with Mozilla Foundation, formerly executive director for OneWebDay

• “Clearer lines between appropriate public and private information will emerge as more people are burned legally, professionally, and socially by what they make available online, and by what remains available even though they grow up and move on.” Tom Wolzien, founder and chairman of Wolzien LLC Media & Communications Strategy and formerly senior analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

• “My experience is that the stages of life that follow the young, single years tend to bring a good deal more focus when marriage, career and family become part of the daily routine. I would expect that those responsibilities will pull in time and attention as they have for past generations. However, there is probably no going back on the more open social environment of the Internet that has evolved over the past decade. What ‘social interactions’ is has been redefined with widespread normative behavior. Staying in touch with others by nonstop cell phone and messaging is different than it was decades ago. Actually ‘openness’ has been evolving all during my lifetime. The message of ‘drugs, sex, and rock-‘n-roll’ changed openness for baby-boomers. Things like homosexuality, pre-marital sex, non-married pregnancy, even having cancer, have greatly altered our sense of what has to be kept private. Our sense of what’s shameful has changed steadily since the ’60s. Gen Y will take different standards into the workplace and relationships and the norms will continue to drift.” David Collin, retired, formerly director of the American Cancer Society

• “Digital data preservation makes it essentially impossible to effectively re-write history. The baby-boomers’ admissions of drug use paved the way for this generation’s online admissions of just about everything, and having gotten it out there, it’s never coming back. As with the baby-boomers, this will permanently shift the attitudes of this generation about what’s acceptable. Of course, their own behavior, which they can’t change retroactively, will be the new yardstick.” Bill Woodcock, research director, Packet Clearing House, vice president with Netsurfer Publishing, co-founder and technical advisor, Nepal Internet Exchange and Uganda Internet Exchange

• “Did the social activists of the ’60s grow up? Yes, and then emerged as today’s politicians. Sure, the Gen Y kids are getting older, and their life course events will change – having their own children will be an eye opener for the dangers of sharing information online. But they will have grown up sharing information, so what they retrench to may be quite different from where older generations started. But, yes, they will change their habits. They will become more conservative as they become part of conservative culture and organizations. Workplaces will be more dominant in setting trends than college campuses.” Caroline Haythornthwaite, professor, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

• “Certainly today’s youth will change as they grow older and take on new responsibilities, but they will not abandon their habits of being in constant contact with friends and family members. Americans born in the 1960s adapted throughout their lives as portable music devices changed from transistor radios to Walkmen to iPods; we were a generation that always carried music with us. Americans born in the 1980s will always have personal devices for connecting to people, and they will continue using these devices throughout their lives.” —Mindy McAdams, Knight Chair in journalism, University of Florida, author of Flash Journalism: How to Create Multimedia News Packages, journalist

• “Privacy isn’t Platonic, it’s contextual and variable. Gen Y has permanent callouses where the boomers have privacy sensibilities. Remember that Brandeis called for a right to privacy because he was shocked that newspapers could publish his picture without his permission. Flickr users (3 billion photos and counting) may someday embrace Brandeis, but never his definition of privacy.” —Stewart Baker, general counsel to the US Internet Service Provider Association, former general counsel for the US National Security Agency

This is not so much a generational story as a story about the impact of technology on overall human behavior. It relates to deep human desires to be social and to be in control of identity. New technologies will continue to make this much easier to do.

• “The mistake made in assigning to a particular age group a propensity for technology and media usage is the assumption that its the cohort of people in time, rather than the lifestyle of those people which matters. Already, we can see that single people without children are much more likely to connect online, publish and broadcast than those who don’t. It just so happens that people in their teens to 30s now are most likely to be in that group. When those people’s life narrative changes, their life broadcast will change.” Matthew Allen, director of Internet Studies at the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts, Curtin University of Technology, and critic of social uses and cultural meanings of the Internet

• “Social networking will be embedded in those parts of everyday life that are mediated by (conducted via) information technology. We’ll be doing it – Gen Y and everyone else – whether we understand it or not.” Seth Grimes, founder of the data-systems architecture and design company Alta Plana Corporation and a columnist for Intelligent Enterprise magazine

• “Human nature is fundamentally the same, despite the advent of new technology. Generation Y will likely continue to share their lives on social networking sites in the future, but will continue to fall in the classic pattern of settling down, caring more about their families than their random friends from high school and spending less time broadcasting their mundane activities.” Davis Fields, product manager, Nokia

• “Widespread information sharing is not a generational issue. It’s a technological one. Our means for controlling access to data, or its use – or even for asserting our ‘ownership’ of it – are very primitive. (Logins and passwords alone are clunky as hell, extremely annoying, and will be seen a decade hence as a form of friction we were glad to eliminate.) It’s still early. The Net and the Web as we know them have only been around for about 15 years. Right now we’re still in the early stages of the Net’s Cambrian explosion. By that metaphor Google is a trilobyte. We have much left to work out. For example, take ‘terms of use.’ Sellers have them. Users do not – at least not ones that they control. Wouldn’t it be good if you could tell Facebook or Twitter (or any other company using your data) that these are the terms on which they will do business with you, that these are the ways you will share data with them, that these are the ways this data can be used, and that this is what will happen if they break faith with you? Trust me: user-controlled terms of use are coming. (Work is going on right now on this very subject at Harvard’s Berkman Center, both at its Law Lab and Project VRM.) Two current technical developments, ‘self-tracking’ and ‘personal informatics,’ are examples of ways that power is shifting from organizations to individuals – for the simple reason that individuals are the best points of integration for their own data, and the best points of origination for what gets done with that data. Digital natives will eventually become fully empowered by themselves, not by the organizations to which they belong, or the services they use. When that happens, they’ll probably be more careful and responsible than earlier generations, for the simpler reason that they will have the tools.” —Doc Searls, fellow, Berkman Center, Harvard, fellow at Center for Information Technology and Society, University of California-Santa Barbara; co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto

• “There are already digital natives who predate Generation Y – early adopters of the Internet and its predecessor networks. I have seen little waning of enthusiasm for online engagement amongst these Internet pioneers, and can imagine no more reason why younger digital natives should lose enthusiasm for the online medium.” —Jeremy Malcolm, project coordinator, Consumers International, and co-director of the Internet Governance Caucus

• “The sharing impulse is a permanent shift, not a cohort effect or an age effect. It is enabled by technology (incredibly cheap communications and storage) but fueled by people taking back the right to create and share things (not that they explicitly knew that right was missing). Our notions of privacy will land elsewhere than they were 10 years ago.” Jerry Michalski, founder, Relationship Economy eXpedition, exploring “the emerging order for transformation agents,” founder and president of Sociate

• “I wouldn’t class digital natives as Generation Y. In my experience there are a lot of older people today who are digital natives as well. I think that this is more about personal disposition than age. People who have chosen that way, will tend to keep it up, although the form of the disclosure will likely change a lot, and in some cases, become less open to the public. What I mean is that someone might start Twittering a lot, then start a blog and Twitter less, then join an online gaming site and Twitter rarely, and blog less. After that perhaps a genealogy Web forum, and then a new mothers Web forum and after that some kind of kids club site.” —Michael Dillon, network consultant at BT and a career professional in IP networking since 1992, member of BT’s IP Number Policy Advisory Forum

• “The conversations that occur through social media are the social equivalent of bat sonar. It’s a human quality to transmit messages and sense the social responses, particularity the emotional responses. That’s how social networks (i.e. society) are maintained. We won’t have transcended humanity by 2020.” —Garth Graham, board member of Telecommunities Canada, promoting local community network initiatives

• “Generation X is the one to watch, as they are already passing through these life transitions with all of their network-enhanced lifestyles intact. They are bringing these tools to bear on parenthood, managing health and illness, and managing finances. They are already creating the tools, sites and companies Gen Y and others will use as models.” Anthony Townsend, director of technology development and research director at The Institute for the Future

• “I am 52 years old and I have taken to social networking like a duck to water. I know a great many elderly people who are venturing enthusiastically into cyberspace for the first time because of Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so forth. I have no doubt that, so long as some form of the Internet exists, the vast majority of people will continue to make use of it for social purposes for the foreseeable future. Gen Y’s usage patterns may evolve over time, but they won’t diminish significantly over the long term.” Robert G. Ferrell, information systems security professional, US government, former systems security specialist, National Business Center, US Department of the Interior

The notion of privacy was powerful in the industrial era during the rise of “mass society.” We live in a time in which the need for privacy and the advantages of privacy have given way to the needs of “networked society,” and advantages are found for all in sharing details in social media. When this generation comes to power in government and corporate settings social norms will be more formally adjusted. 

• “The ideas of privacy that grew up with mass society will continue to give way to new ideas of privacy appropriate to network society. Disclosure is not as influenced by youth as it is by changes to the media environment.” —Alex Halavais, professor and social informatics researcher, Quinnipiac University; explores the ways in which social computing influences society, author of Search Engine Society

• “They will not have grown out of being ambient broadcasters, because being ambient broadcasters will have become the norm when they are totally in charge.” Jeff Branzburg, consultant with Teaching Matters, Inc.

• “This way of being is completely ingrained in their DNA now. The challenge will be for older generations to accept that expectations on sharing have changed, and to modify behavior and employment norms to take this into account.” —Chris Jacobs, chief operating officer, Solutions for Progress, Inc.

• “The professional and social benefits of information sharing will continue to grow, and Generation Y will continue to play an active role in that sharing. Part of the additional value that will be added to this practice will be the continued adoption of information sharing by Gen Y’s elders – thereby improving the social networks by adding more participants, and simultaneously lessening the noteworthiness of participating. Simply put, this won’t even be a question in 2020. Every generation will participate in social networking and reaping the benefits of digital communities, and no one will remember why we thought it was strange in 2010.” —Steve Rozillis, senior digital marketing manager for a major US insurance company

• “While I agree that those who are young today will outgrow their penchant for sharing, there will always be a new class of young people who are exploring the world and in so doing will share without concern for future consequences. We need to adapt our privacy and data gathering to accommodate this. We ought to require search engines, such as Google, to purge their dossiers on people when those people hit their 25th birthday.” Karl Auerbach, chief technical officer at InterWorking Labs, Inc.

• “Probably these generations will seem to be ‘growing out’ of much of their digital media use and technology use. However, their use will probably very similar. The reason for this perception to occur is that ‘newer’ generations will use more technology in comparison to these – by then – older counterparts.” Homero Gil de Zuniga, Internet researcher and professor at the University of Texas-Austin

• “People will adjust to and adapt new technologies over time. They learn how to use them and they get over rough spots. Problems with new technologies (remember all of the worries about the need to provide blocking for caller ID) often dissipate as experience grows with technologies. I am confident many of today’s concerns about privacy online will take care of themselves – but new ones will emerge to take their place almost certainly.” —Link Hoewing, assistant vice president for Internet and technology issues, Verizon

• “The real impact will come when the majority of the leadership in all democratically oriented societies are ‘digital natives’ as the whole decision process in these societies will change greatly. Right now most of the leadership in companies and legislatures still focuses on face-to-face interactions. We are still going through the educational system and Generation Y is not sufficient yet in mass to have changed much of the societal decision processes. Too many countries are getting away with limiting Internet access, and this is going to be a major roadblock for any worldwide move in this area.” Murray Turoff, professor of computer and information sciences, New Jersey Institute of Technology and co-author of The Network Nation

• “Just as Gen Xers and Baby Boomers have changed the way they share information over time, so will Gen Y. Nothing is going to stand still. Social networking is in its infancy and people are certainly learning some lessons about what happens when you share too much information with the world. Over time people may well grow to place more value on privacy. Social networking services will also change a great deal over the next 10 years. Social networking may become more seamlessly integrated into most media and services. But I also think that by 2020 in developed Western countries the online and offline worlds are going to be increasingly blurred and integrated. That means that social norms from the online world will impact offline social norms, and offline social norms, rules and laws, will move more deeply into cyberspace as well. Everything changes everything.” —Rebecca MacKinnon, co-founder, Global Voices, visiting fellow, Center for Information Technology Policy, Princeton University

Millennials will eventually calibrate the level of detail they provide various audiences in their lives. The things they disclose will also change as they get older and their interests change. Nuanced behavior about what information to share and whom to share it with will become more prevalent. Disclosures might become more tame. New social strategies – and a new “netiquette” – will also emerge as this generation figures out the social advantages they can gain by selective disclosure. 

• “As one ages, life gets more complicated, one learns the consequences of unbridled openness. One becomes more circumspect. I don’t think they’ll necessarily share less. I think they’ll share more carefully, however.” Joshua Freeman, director of interactive services, Columbia University Information Technology

• “Everyone is a socialist at 20 and a capitalist at 50. Didn’t George Bernard Shaw say that? Now, everyone is an information socialist at 20 and an information capitalist at 50. We’ll have more information to protect, and we will want to do so to protect ourselves and to gain advantage.” Barry Wellman, professor of sociology and Netlab Director, University of Toronto

• “The answer really lies somewhere between these two statements. People’s habits change as they get older, and that will be true of Generation Y, but nevertheless the increased broadcasting of personal information will remain common at all age levels.” —Nicholas Carr, writer and consultant whose work centers on information technology, author of The Big Switch and Does IT Matter? – his next book is What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains

• “I am seeing that the college students in my classes are increasingly concerned about Facebook privacy, the amount of time they spend online, and the way they share information. In general, I think Gen Y will continue to be more open about a great deal of information sharing, but I can see that at least some of them are growing concerned.” Howard Rheingold, visiting lecturer, Stanford University, lecturer, University of California-Berkeley, author of many books about technology including Tools for Thought and Smart Mobs

• “What was novel becomes normative and mainstream. Currently social networks are a new flare with much excitement. While the flare may diminish, as Gen Y grows older, the utility and functionality will not. For example, social networks create easy means of organizing social groups. As Gen Y ages, they may spend lest time bantering and babbling, but will continue to find the utility of social network tools valuable. As they age, they will expect to employ these same skills in finding a car, buying a house, looking for a graduate school, networking in careers.” —Robert Cannon, senior counsel for Internet law, Office for Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis, Federal Communications Commission, founder and director, Cybertelecom

• “People don’t ‘grow out’ of fundamental practices for which they see no viable alternatives, especially once they have invested so much energy into the networks and spaces within which they operate, and while there are so many social connections and so much social capital pulling them back in. No, I believe this ship has sailed, at the private and interpersonal as much as at the professional and commercial level – sharing, rather than secrecy, is now the preferred option by far, and what isn’t shared might as well not exist in the first place. Two points of caution, however. First, there is a need for users from all generations to become much more sophisticated in their understanding of the implications of their choices of what they choose to share or not to share, and I think this more sophisticated understanding will develop over time (the hard way, for some). Second, even by 2020, there may still be a substantial minority of holdouts, of non-participants, who do not engage in those practices. The more dominant sharing as the default practice becomes, though, the harder it will be for these non-participants to continue to abstain.” Axel Bruns, associate professor of media and communication, Queensland University of Technology, and general editor of Media and Culture journal

• “The answer is complex, with some of both outcomes mixed together. As people get older, they will become more concerned about what they share and whom they share it with. Participation in social networks, virtual worlds, and the like, will not fade. It is not just the young who are interacting there now; older folks today are moving into that space. Those who grow up familiar with those tools will evolve new ways of using them, but will not turn away from them.” —David D. Clark, senior research scientist, MIT, an Internet pioneer who has been active in building its architecture since 1981, now working on the next-generation Internet

• “They’ll take the skills they’ve learned as sharers of information – not ‘ambient broadcasters’ – and put those skills toward other kinds of goals.” —Dan Gillmor, director of Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University and author of We the Media

• “As people grow older, they participate in more than one community, each with its own values and language. I expect young people will need to learn to separate their various identities as they mature.” —Irene Wu, director of research, International Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, Yahoo fellow in residence, Gergetown’s School of Foreign Service

• “I suspect that social networks will remain popular and most users will continue to post at least some personal information there. It’s become a common and useful channel of personal awareness and discourse. I do think that more people will become more judicious about what they post to social networks, and more aware of how that information gets shared. Humans are fundamentally sharing creatures. That’s how we work, and how we create society. I think danah boyd is dead-on with her comparison of online social interaction (including sharing personal information) to ‘social grooming’ in primates.” —Amy Gahran, contributing writer at eMeter Corporation, senior editor at Oakland Local, co-creator and community manager at Reynolds Journalism Institute

• “The ‘digital natives’ will mature and find other interests which will likely change the intensity of their online activities, though not their willingness to use online tools. The younger Internet user will likely become more selective in online use over time, but not negative toward its use.” David Olive, vice president of policy development support for ICANN; formerly general manager, Fujitsu America, Washington, D.C.

• “The ambient broadcasting is a passing phenomenon, one that we’re all likely to outgrow as we understand the implications of leaving behind a perpetual, searchable record. This doesn’t mean broadcasting will cease – it means it will be more careful, cautious and controlled, even by GenYers.” —Ethan Zuckerman, research fellow, Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, co-founder, Global Voices, researcher, Global Attention Gap 

• “Digital natives will take the lack of privacy and ease of broadcasting personal information as a given. While they will become savvier about not sharing personal information that can lead to victimization from fraud and identity theft, they will continue to live their lives in the open.” —Mary Joyce, co-founder, DigiActive.org

• “There are two processes at stake. 1) The process of aging which will change the values as well as specific needs and desires for the individual use of the Internet, but not the use of the Internet as such. There will be a tremendous development of new genres and communication patterns. This process also implies that the variety of usages (and probably also new values and reasons for using the net) will grow. 2) The process of expanding penetration rates in different countries, which is uneven, will generally effects all countries, but it is not clear whether mobile devices will be more widespread and relevant interface to the Internet than PCs and laptops.” —Niels Ole Finnemann, professor and director of the Center for Internet Research, Aarhus University, Denmark

• “There is a constant evolution in behavior. Among young people, I have observed huge privacy shifts from 2005 to today. So I fully believe that these trends will continue to shift, as we evolve to the technology and the social effects. I also believe that technology will shift; the ‘social networks’ of today will have different modes of interaction and content sharing. In 2020, the idea of listing one’s ‘Favorite Movies’ and other rudimentary forms of identity-production will appear archaic.” —Fred Stutzman, Ph.D candidate, researcher and teaching fellow, School of Information and Library Science, UNC-Chapel Hill

• “It will change to a more measured and self-reflective approach to information-sharing. I am not so sure that today’s digital natives really embrace widespread information-sharing, as much as they embrace wanting their friends and those they choose to have almost constant access to information exchanges. But, I expect the practices that they are experiencing today to influence their expectations about always on and ubiquitous access, and that they are increasingly expecting that technology and online/Internet services will be integrated into daily life. Those expectations may portend major and different breakthroughs when they become the paying user, not just the tween and teen consumer.” —Marilyn Cade, chief executive officer at ICT Strategies and mCADE LLC, past VP for Internet and Internet governance at AT&T

• “As people age, that which they have to share becomes more tame. Thus, while the digital natives may be sharing less embarrassing things about themselves, they’ll be sharing things that are likely to embarrass their kids, who in middle school will discover that every step of their potty training is has been blogged, with photographs, for their friends to see.” —Stuart Schechter, researcher, Microsoft Research, formerly on the technical staff at MIT Lincoln Laboratory

• “We will see two (apparently) contradictory evolutions in today’s Generation Y’s behaviour. On the one hand, they might abandon some of their current practices of intensive personal content sharing on the Net and usage of some social networking sites and other ‘friend-focused’ practices. Nevertheless, we believe this will be more a qualitative than a quantitative evolution: quitting some of these activities will be more related to the evolution of their actual tastes – and socialization needs – rather than a matter of ‘growing out.’ Instead, in quantitative terms, we think that the generations that were born with the Internet and, especially, the ones that grew with the Web 2.0 will have specific practices embedded in their social code. Thus, once in the job market, they might get rid of some practices but translate the essence to their jobs: collaborative working, high exposure of professional portfolios online, working directly on digital and Web platforms, or be present in professional (and also personal, of course) networking sites might become common ground and a driver of exclusion for those not being able to live in this landscape.” —Ismael Peña-López, lecturer, School of Law and Political Science, Open University of Catalonia, researcher, Internet Interdisciplinary Institute

• “What the public desire, the Market will provide. There cannot sustainably be a bringing together of the most personal life and the public professional life in the online world. Either companies will split apart, with some specialising in professional networking and others in the private networking of close friends and family, or sites akin to Facebook will devise user friendly means of demarcating between public and private information. What can be certain is that Internet networking will not be going away!” —Francis J.L. Osborn, philosopher, University of Wales-Lampeter

• “But they will have learnt which things to share, and a new ‘netiquette’ will have emerged regarding the information shared by others.” —César Córcoles, professor at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain

Privacy is less meaningful to Millennials and their changed norms will stay with them, perhaps in new forms. Social styles get imprinted in people early, though social strategies change. Millennials will not revert to the traditions of their parents and grandparents when it comes to being public actors. The yearning for privacy will seem an artifact of the past. And their lifestyles will influence their elders’ and institutions.

• “The social styles learned in the formative teen years tend to carry on through adulthood – limited mostly by ‘learning painful lessons’ about the occasional down-sides of openness.” Jim Warren, founder and chair of the first Computers, Freedom, and Privacy Conference and longtime technology and society activist

• “By 2020, we will have established new social norms regarding the sharing of information. Having been burned by too much openness, I expect Gen Y and the Millennials to become somewhat more guarded about their online presence. They will have more to lose.” Dean Thrasher, founder, Infovark, a software company that makes Enterprise 2.0 tools

• “I reckon people will become a bit more selective, but it may be that people develop other ways to keep ‘secrets,’ for example about thoughts rather than deeds.” —Dean Bubley, founder, Disruptive Analysis, an independent technology analysis and consulting firm

• “I would expect Gen Y members to find even more uses for social networking beyond their adolescent wanderings. They will connect with extended families, form consortiums of parents to communicate with educators and even play online multiplayer games with their kids, their cousins, and distant friends.” Barbara Ferry, director of business and editorial research, National Geographic Society Libraries and Information Services

• “As the digital natives become influential people in our societies, transparency and openness in business and government will increase, leading to a less corrupt and more honest world.” —Hjalmar Gislason, founder and chief executive officer for DataMarket; former director of business development at Iceland Telecom

Governments and businesses with an interest in promoting people’s open sharing of personal information will play their own role in encouraging Millennials to broadcast personal information and in adjusting to these new realities.

• “The advantages of information sharing will be heavily and successfully marketed so that only those on the fringes will withhold their personal information. This will occur despite occasional scams and misuse of personal data. Security will continue to get better but not good enough to eliminate misuse.” —Charles M. Perrottet, founding principal, Futures Strategy Group LLC

• “There will continue to be strong corporate pressures on the consumer to share information, and those incentives will not abate. Today’s digital natives have formed a habit of sharing information, and habits are almost impossible to break.” —Hal Eisen, senior engineering manager at Ask.com

• “It is clear that all generations are happy to share information, the key is for technology to come to grips with the fine line between public/private or domestic/everyday-life concepts that people are using with these technologies. This means that either corporations will have to learn to encode these distinctions through a ‘hard-core’ of code with technical protection measures, or else perhaps governments will need to legislate to prevent the harvesting of data. Either way the open-sourcing of public life will not be going away.” David M. Berry, author of Copy, Rip, Burn: Copyleft! and a lecturer on sociological and philosophical research into technology

• “The real question will be people’s willingness to sacrifice privacy for certain potential benefits. Many people will learn that they have in fact been sacrificing something and endangering themselves by sharing too much information. They will become more judicious in what they share on which networks. And they will desire greater protection of privacy and become advocates for stringent privacy rights. Many others will be seduced by the promises of sharing information and will sacrifice their privacy and will come to value the ‘goodies’ they can get by providing personal information. Over the next decade there will be increasing discrepancies between countries in terms of privacy laws and the protection of privacy. Advertisers and corporations will want people to provide their personal information and their ability to offer ‘goodies’ will increase. States will want to collect as much personal information as possible in order to more efficiently control populations. Depending upon the relative strength of democratic forces in various nations, privacy will either expand or erode. In the US, sharing of very personal medical information will become a battleground in this contentious area. On the one hand, sharing complete medical information and personal history will have life-saving potential that many will desire and which the government, insurance corporations, and a health-care system increasingly controlled by financial institutions will exploit. If I were to hazard a guess, in the short-term in the US private information will become increasingly gathered by the government and corporations and will not be adequately protected.” —Benjamin Mordechai Ben-Baruch, senior market intelligence consultant and applied sociologist, consultant for General Motors

• “The amount of sharing will be dependent upon many external elements to the digital natives. If things such as network neutrality keep the Internet open and an increase of economic opportunity remains with the Internet, we will see an increase and continuation of digital natives being broadcasters, connectors, etc. If opportunities decrease due to restraints put upon the Internet infrastructure, participation will also decrease. Lets hope the current decision and policy makers keep the Internet open and a place that encourages participation.” Peter Rawsthorne, learning systems architect and council member, WikiEducator, IT team lead and solutions architect, Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia

Time pressures will eventually assert themselves. It takes a lot of effort to broadcast your thoughts and whereabouts and the demands of busy lives will cut into Millennials’ interest in sharing so much detail about themselves.

• “I suspect Gen Y’s constituents will realize, as they age, that they simply don’t have the time to devote to broadcasting their activities and keeping tabs on all of their acquaintances. They might also come to the realization that they never really cared all that much about constantly knowing what everyone else is doing.” —Christopher Saunders, managing editor, InternetNews.com

• “The area of transparency and disclosure is hard to define and determine in the long term. The Web has grown quickly and changes in focus and function almost following Moore’s law for processing power of PCs. It is true that age brings wisdom and reservation and it may be very likely that Gen Y/Millennials will indeed pull back, share less, and focus more on family. Time is always a challenge as we all age, grow a family and take on ever increasing levels of professional responsibility. Priorities as a result change which may impact one’s ability and desire to share.” —Kevin Novak, co-chair of eGov Working Group at the World Wide Web Consortium and vice president of integrated Web strategy at the American Institute of Architects

• The activities won’t go away, but will slowly lessen as a priority. Less and less discretionary time will likely force Millennials to continually reassess priorities and adjust online behavior.” —Paul DiPerna, research director at Foundation for Educational Choice, conducting surveys, polling, Internet/social media projects

Growing older does have some influence on behavior and will continue to do so. Some privacy practices are too valuable to give up.

• “My impression has been that sociability declines with age, and that the obsessive other-directedness of youth gradually gives way to self-direction.” John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, former director of cyberstrategy and other projects for the Federation of American Scientists

• “It should be blatantly obvious that getting married and having kids reduces both the inclination and opportunities for ‘widespread information sharing.’ ‘Not a soul down on the corner. That’s a pretty certain sign that wedding bells are breakin’ up that old gang of mine’” Seth Finkelstein, anti-censorship activist and programmer, author of the Infothought blog and an Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award winner

• “As people age, their attitudes change, and I expect that young people will share less as they get older. I see this as a factor of their life circumstances changing. Parents, for instance, behave differently from non-parents, and one of the things that people often inherit along with parenthood is a bizarre caution that could easily inhibit some of the sharing that took place at earlier times in their lives. I don’t think young people will ‘grow out’ of wanting to use social networks, play online games, and do other ‘time-consuming’ things. Other interests may replace some of those, but in many cases, those tools and games are part of how they relate to the world (they certainly are for me), and even if they share less information while doing those things, the interest will remain.” Rachel S. Smith, VP, NMC Services, New Media Consortium

• “Their enthusiasm will persist, but their time to do so will diminish as they age.” Esther Dyson, founder and chief executive officer of EDventure, investor and serial board member, journalist and commentator on emerging digital technology

• “This is perspective and way-of-life trend. People will use their time differently as their lives change, but the fundamental broader sharing of personal information and connecting to various publics seems to me to be a powerful trend.” —Gary Marchionini, professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, US

• “There is no question in my mind that the enthusiasm to share information, especially personal information, will wane. First, there is the novelty effect at the moment. Second, there will be enough cases of bad things happening to people who put too much information about themselves online that there will be greater caution. Third, as Gen Y ages, they will have more information to keep private.” —Peng Hwa Ang, dean of the School of Communication, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and active leader in the global Internet governance processes of WSIS and IGF

• “They will be left to complain about the challenges of their spawn, whom to their possible surprise may seek more restrictive boundaries, in the ever-present cycle of human expansion and contraction.” Eric James, president of the James Preservation Trust and publisher of Stray Leaves, author and lecturer

New digital divides will occur as those who are comfortable with gadgets have reputational and productivity advantages over those who are not as comfortable – or those who cannot afford the gadgets. 

• “This one seems obvious to me: we aren’t going back to the days of friction in personal information. The flows are flowing and will continue to, and those who aren’t digitally literate will miss out on crucial educational and economic opportunities. The real problem we face is the divide between the rich gadget hounds and the poorer Millennials. Not everyone can afford the freedom that releasing all that information makes possible.” Susan Crawford, founder of OneWebDay, Internet law professor at the University of Michigan, former special assistant to President Obama for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy

• “Sharing is the natural state of humans, in general. Our Industrial Age culture developed because our education and social systems adapted to that prevailing economy. It is a culture developed around the concept of competition for scarce resources. Primeval culture, the original reason for humans to socialize, is based on abundance by contribution. ‘Digital natives’ will show the ‘digital immigrants’ the abundance in the power of contribution. And even then some of us will still remain ‘digital undocumented workers.’” —Jack Holt, senior strategist for emerging media, Department of Defense, Defense Media Activity, chief of new media operations, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs

Following is a wide selection of elaborations from respondents who chose to take credit for their remarks:

• “While it is possible social networks will continue to prevail, technology is moving so fast that the next new thing could make social networks obsolete. Look at how many Baby Boomers are now on Facebook and Twitter, which didn’t exist five years ago.” Brad Adgate, senior vice president and research director at Horizon Media

• “I see no reason why today’s ‘digital natives’ will lessen their use of the Net. That use may be increasingly practical and not just for fun or be a time waster.”David R. Hughes, Electronic Frontier Foundation Internet Pioneer Award winner and advocate for connected communities

• “This statement is based on a faulty premise that young people are more lax with their privacy. They produce more information online, and much of it is accessible by the masses. But not everyone shows everything to everyone else. People draw their own lines and as new technologies emerge, these lines will continue to be renegotiated. For example, Google Latitude did not have a huge uptake, nor I think will it.” Bernie Hogan, research fellow, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

• “The second response is a narrow view of these tools, that it is some inconsequential fad. As much as I hate to use generational lumpings, these are all activities, ways of being, communicating that become part of the fabric of the way we go about work, living, etc. It will become part of how we live, not some frilly add-on. I would say that people who have the mindset of sharing, connecting, will find ways to use these skills in the settings that currently now do not value them; by 2020, people with social networking mindsets will be in positions of making change in every sector (well maybe not Congress).” Alan Levine, vice president, community and chief technology officer, New Media Consortium

• “Gen Y will grow somewhat more cautious as they age, but their early exposure will mark them. Barring repressive socio-political forces, they’ll remain more open and fluently interactive in the digital world than their elders.” Reva Basch, self-employed consultant for Aubergine Information Systems; active longtime member of The WELL, one of the earliest cyberspace communities; author of Internet books

• “The amount will decline as time demands grow, but the relative openness (compared to previous generations) will remain true.” Jamais Cascio, fellow with the Institute for the Future and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies and world-builder-in-chief for OpenTheFuture.com

• “The Internet is not less than addiction. So Internet is a life-line of Generation Y.” Maliha Kabani, president, International Sustainable Development Resource Centre

• “Taking on more responsibilities for family and society does not preclude the diffusion of digital skills. Generation Y and following generations will live in an environment in which increasing digital capability is the norm. Generation Y will be pushed by succeeding generations to enhance and integrate digital use in daily life. Furthermore, digital life becomes a way of life, not a ‘fad’ to be ignored when one gets mature. This concept, maintained by baby boomers, that is, computing as of fad, disappeared as boomers began to lose their significance in the social system (significantly the case in 2020).” Stephen Steele, professor, sociology and futures studies, Institute for the Future, Anne Arundel Community College

• “The habits of mind and character one learns while young tend to persist into maturity.” —Chris Dede, Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies, Harvard Graduate School of Education, emerging technologies expert

• “Do peoples’ habits really change that much?” —Dorothy Denning, distinguished professor at Naval Postgraduate School, former director of the Georgetown Institute for Information, ACM Fellow

• “My motto: ‘The worst you’ll accept is the best you’ve ever had.’ Hence there is no turning back, although (like previous generations), Gen Y will nostalgize some of the early social media experiences (‘Whatever happened to MySpace? Remember how cool it was?’) The practices will be ingrained in future behaviors, in much the same way that the freedom of choice that we got from VHS 2 decades ago has migrated to on-demand viewing via video on demand and digital video recorders. Such behavior will be part of life. It’s what we expect – in an updated version.” —Gary Arlen, president, Arlen Communications, founder of The Internet Alliance and member of the board for NTN Buzztime Inc.

• “Privacy does not depend on a binary of private or public. We’ve developed detailed expectations and norms that define lots of different kinds of face-to-face interactions. People will still desire to support a degree of privacy in an online world and we will awkwardly develop new technologies, laws, and norms to protect privacy in the new social contexts that are emerging.” —John Monberg, assistant professor, Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, Michigan State University

• “As people age they will probably adjust their social attitudes and preferences. Young ones will replace them. I don’t think this will be an ‘about-face’ on the part of GenY’ers. Just a modification and moderation, probably due more to info overload than to a change of heart about privacy.” —Sheizaf Rafaeli, director of Center for the Study of the Information Society and head of the Graduate School of Management at the University of Haifa Israel

• “Publishing our own homepages or blogs will survive because they expand our communication range, but I don’t think deeper, time-consuming communication like heavy use of Twitter or Second Life will be difficult to survive. I think Twitter is now ‘under evaluation’ and people will find its practical use.” Toshiyuki Sashihara, engineer and innovator for NEC Corporation

• “The cat will not be stuffed back into the bag. Social media researchers tell us that sharing information about oneself, as youth seem to do more naturally than we do, can be a means to power as well as essential spin control. They’re learning how to be their own spin doctors and political consultants, and I think – since we view this information-sharing differently from the way they do, generally – we need to respect that learning process more and support their development of strategies for dealing with all that information, exposure, the 24/7 drama that could consume them (if they let it) and for valuing reflection, self-respect, and chances to ‘untether’ (to borrow a word used by MIT’s Sherry Turkle) and think independently.” Anne Collier, co-chair, Online Safety & Technology Working Group, founder of Net Family News, co-author, MySpace Unraveled: A Parent’s Guide to Teen Social Networking

• “While the Millennials continue to share, they will become more savvy about how to protect what remains of their privacy. Their children, however, will demand the latest cerebral implants and quasi-conscious robots that will be all the rage.” Stephen Balkam, chief executive officer at the Family Online Safety Institute

• “They will have grown out of games and personal disclosure, but they will utilize the tools and skills developed to support those applications in their professional and civic lives. They will drive the invention and application of social networking tools.” —Larry Press, professor of computer information systems, California State University Dominguez Hills

• “As people use technology, they’ll get smarter about the pitfalls of use, and hopefully, government agencies will take an appropriate watchdog role in protecting consumers from unscrupulous operators, scams and frauds. It may well be that new forms will be safer, cheaper and more interactive, rendering what we have now as obsolete as 8-track audio.” —Jack Hicks, senior lecturer, department of English, University of California-Davis, a founder of the graduate creative writing program and undergrad creative writing sequence

• “We’ll all have shared so much information we’ll have a different attitude toward preserving privacy in the face of that background, but we will also learn better ways of looking away.” —Wendy Seltzer, visiting fellow, Oxford Internet Institute, fellow, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard Law School, fellow, Silicon Flatirons, University of Colorado Law School

• “Today’s digital natives will not change their reading, writing and information sharing habits in just one decade (if ever). Only if some truly heinous consequence of this behavior occurs will they be encouraged to change. If admission of drinking, drug use, reading a particular kind of literature or being a professed believer in a fundamentalist religion becomes a much more serious societal negative, with repercussions that impact livelihood or results in ostracism, then information sharing behavior will change.” —Rich Miller, managing director and principal, Cumulati, director, Truedomain, advisor at CloudSoft, Genetic Finance, AeroDynamic Solutions, VEXTEC and OptionMonster

• “Societal expectations about information-sharing are likely to change even as information-sharing practices continue to change. As a member of Generation Y who has already noticed these expectations evolving as my generation begins its transition to middle adulthood, I am confident that the perceived value of information-sharing will continue to justify its expansion.” Alissa Cooper, chief computer scientist, Center for Democracy & Technology

• “That generation shows how much easy it can be adapted to new technologies and creating new usage. It isn’t faithful to unique technology but more to the principle of interaction and sharing. It is not just an enthusiasm but a natural behavior for digital natives to be always connected, enjoying sharing and interacting with peers.” Rafik Dammak, CAD engineer, STMicroelectronics, Tunisia; leader of the Youth Dynamic Coalition of the Internet Governance Forum

• “There is no reason why change in patterns of communication associated with age change will not continue. In addition, disenchantment with excessive proliferation of applications and privacy treats are likely to increase the trend toward restraint already perceptible.” Michel J. Menou, independent consultant in ICT policy, visiting professor and associate researcher, School of Library, Archives and Information Services, University College London

• “Generation Y/Millennials will continue to share a great deal of information about themselves throughout their entire lives. Generation X and Generation Z will take advantage of this behavior to profit enormously at the expense of Generation Y.” —Chris Minnick, independent information technology and services professional

• “While it could go either way, I don’t think the Internet has abolished the truism that most people’s tastes, predilections and inclinations are often fixed before age 25. I am sure the use of these tools by Millennials will change over time but are always likely to play a major role – barring some game-changing meltdown that can’t be predicted.” —Steven Metalitz, partner, Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp

• “They are born to that kind of privacy, this is their normal that’s why I chose the first scenario.” —Itir Akdogan, Ph.D. candidate and lecturer, University of Helsinki, expertise in using information and communications technologies in empowering women and girls

• “There will be a booming industry in re-privatization of identities and information. People will develop new areas of the brain to sort out their multiple identities and passwords to those virtual worlds.” —Ellen Hume, Annenberg Fellow, Center for Media and Communication Studies, Central European University, former research director of the Center for Future Civic Media, MIT

• “The WiFi-generation, growing up in the mobile media cloud, will know what it is to be boss and to take control. There will be tools and technology to make the media cloud conditionally transparent and accessible, and it is you (the individual WiFi-citizen) who sets the conditions. You can choose what to share and what not. The present state of information put on the Internet – that it is out of your control – will be reversed. In the future, you will own your own data and information for a lifetime, always able to manipulate or destroy them. Gradually, of course, the excessively time-consuming gaming and social networking will change to moderate and functional amounts.” —Marcel Bullinga, futurist and founder of Futurecheck, writing the book Welcome to the Future Cloud

• “Yes, they will become more cautious as they age, but probably never became as cautious as the Baby Boomers have been.” Peter Bishop, associate professor of strategic foresight, coordinator of the graduate program in futures studies, University of Houston, Texas

• “The paranoia that makes people secretive about their most personal thoughts and other information is countered by the anonymity of the present-day world, in which everything is ad hoc (parents, hometown, friends, fiancé, marriage, profession, occupation) such that the risks involved in ‘telling all’ are really rather reduced. There’s really little to be lost in letting relative strangers know where you’ve been and what you’re really thinking.” —Frederic Michael Litto, retired professor, School of the Future, University of São Paulo, president of ABED-Brazilian Association for Distance Education

• “Gen Y will most definitely change their on-line habits as they mature, but their fundamental approach to technology will remain pragmatic – if they find it useful they will make use of it.” —Andy Opel, associate professor of communications, Florida State University

• “This question seems to assume that Generation Y is the only user base of social media and that the two options presented are the only ones. In fact, in virtual worlds the median age is 35. Social media like Twitter is also similarly skewed. MMOs are not solely the domain of GenY. Society as a whole is having to learn to be more responsible about images and data that is put into the public sphere. Generation Y will be no exception. This does not mean that they will ‘mature’ or ‘grow out of it.’ The binary approach to the future fails to grasp the possibility of unexpected lateral shifts in which society as a whole evolves. Every generation of youth have shared a cavalier sense about the future. All of society has to learn to incorporate the new responsibilities of instant transparency into the fabric of their daily lives.” —Joshua Fouts, leader of Dancing Ink, digital diplomacy expert, senior fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, and founding editor of Online Journalism Review

• “Habits will change primarily as a result of change in lifestyle, not so much in rethinking the impact of spreading information. For now those changes happen if someone is individually affected by the use of personal information by a prospective employer, former romantic interest, etc. In the future those same Generation Y folks will be affected by the stress and schedules of daily life. Simply not having time to spend online may explain changes in Internet use.” Cecelia Rabinowitz, library director and educator at St. Mary’s College of Maryland

• “I have two digital natives in my household, and they and their colleagues have already been scaling back on their use of social networking tools.” Teresa Hartman, head education librarian, University of Nebraska Medical Center

• “The sharing of information via social networks is not an greater or lesser choice. It is a different choice based upon experience. As young people begin to realize that what they put out there is there forever – available to not only their friends but their enemies, their employers their potential employers and the government – they will become more careful. The use of the tools will evolve and change. Hopefully people grow and learn from each others’ and their own experience. The use of social networking to provide opinions as to mass media for example will continue to grow. I’m hopeful that as society begins to find issues and define laws around social networking that privacy will be enhanced as well.” J. Dale Debber, chief executive officer and publisher for Providence Publications LLC in California

• “I agree only on the point that it is natural for maturity and the changing demands of age to shift social behaviors. I would suppose that the same age group that the GenY’ers currently inhabit will be just as social as their predecessors.” —Roarke Lynch, director of NetSmartz Workshop, US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

• “This is a difficult question, since people’s activities do change as they move through life stages. Social media, however, is a form of communication and I believe people will continue to use it, albeit less intensely. Social media is Generation Y’s annual Christmas letter, done all year long.” —Robert Hess, senior fellow at the Center for the Digital Future, Annenberg School, USC, and president and chief executive officer of TSG (a consulting firm)

• “Why would it change simply because they grow older? While priorities will change as they grow older, I don’t see them dropping how they have embraced technology.” —Mark Walter, chief executive officer of J-Angel Productions

• “I expect Millennials’ use of information sharing technology to be multi-modal. As we end 2009 we know that not all Millennials are über-connected, and may have limited experience with the media listed above. I expect that those many of those who do not currently use such technologies will so in the future, while some of them will lessen their use as other aspects of their lives require more time. In short, I expect these media – and their successors – to become entrenched and, as such, to keep their traction. The telephone went from being a community convenience attached somewhere accessible to all, at least within certain hours, to a personal item many of us must stow in our pocket or purse before leaving the house.” —Lois Ann Scheidt, doctoral candidate at Indiana University

• “The new transparency of the Web for Generation Y’s will continue and be engendered into their children – the days of secrets are gone. The Y’s will carry forward the values of openness – and acceptance.” Cameron Lewis, program manager, Arizona Department of Health Services

• “The time constraints that come with maturity and its accompanying responsibilities will limit use of social networking as these users grow older. Their enthusiasm for these activities may still be greater than that of prior generations, but their need for them will be reduced by their personal involvements as partners and parents.” Al Amersdorfer, president and CEO of Automotive Internet Technologies, a provider of Internet marketing solutions for the retail automobile industry

• “Generation Y is unlikely to unlearn its habits, although depending on the ability of public organisations (government, banks, utilities) to develop sufficiently strong encryption and protection of their personal data, the ‘digital natives’ may modify their behaviour to be closer to that of earlier generations. They are likely to demand greater protection of personal data whilst continuing to disclose that data – in other words, they will look to public organisations to provide stronger security to prevent the public data from being misused. (Perhaps shared secrets or PKI have a role to play here). It will be interesting to see what lessons are passed from Generation Y to the Millennials, and whether the Millennials develop new behaviours of their own. And it would be unwise to underestimate the impact on current political and economic models of digital native behaviour. (For example in the UK the current issue over the use of postcode (zip code) data in mashups, which is being pursued in the courts by the Royal Mail which owns the IP rights to this published and public data; this issue has set government ministers against a public corporation, and has baffled commentators in the USA and elsewhere who are surprised that public data can be private property).” —Peter Griffiths, independent information specialist and consultant and former president of the UK Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals

• “The desire to use the Web to improve knowledge, learning and to create connections will grow in ways we have not yet imagined. As the digital natives move into later life-stages, their use of the Web will evolve, not dissipate.” Brian Prascak, chief innovation officer, InReach Commerce, Inc.

• “I really hope that the Generation Y will have gone through the next steps of the Internet evolution and will use their brains more than today to make their choice of living.” —Bernhard Adriaensens, professor at Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management

• “Most of how we learn to behave as youngsters continues throughout our lives, so Millennials will undoubtedly continue to share. As they marry, buy homes, have families and all the obligations that go with those life events, they (and the Internet) will have new means to sharing, but it won’t stop.” Ronni Bennett, founder of timegoesby.net, a blog about aging

• “While I strongly disagree with the sense that ‘digital natives’ do anything differently than the rest of us on social sites (look at the median age of Facebook and World of Warcraft players – not Gen Y) I do believe that the social tools will change how all of us feel about sharing information. Privacy will still be an issue and many people will continue to be aware of who sees their information. As younger individuals mature they will understand that there are certain things you don’t share with others (just like we learned that before there was the Internet). But as a society we have seen the power of what can happen when you do share something – I think it is more accurate to examine this not through a ‘Gen Y’ lens, but rather through a broader societal lens that asks how will we as individuals using social sites change our behaviors and beliefs around sharing content and information.” Elaine Young, associate professor, Champlain College

• “This is their generation and how they connect and interact as a whole. Not sharing would be considered a negative characteristic.”Nick Greene, founder of nickgreene.com

• “I hope the latter will be true, but I fear the former may win.” Harold Medina, president of Medina Associates, a marketing and consulting firm

• “If they are shaped about these patterns, it will continue into the settled lives and perhaps add other avenues of communication as the technology allows.” Joe Hernandez, retired from the Southern Baptist Missionary Organization

• “Gen Y will discover as we (Gen X) have that there are only so many hours in a day and once additional pressures of full-time work, family, etc., kick in, the ability to ‘ambiently’ update the world or play essentially meaningless games will decline. At least I hope so, for the sake of their families and children’s privacy.” Karen Renzi, co-owner and executive director of marketing and sales at Beyondus Design & Marketing

• “I can’t imagine Gen Y changing the ‘digital’ behavior that much as they mature. If anything, they will be desirous of exploiting their knowledge and use of these technologies.” R.L. Monroe, retired after 35 years in the US Department of Defense

• “Clay Shirky has the right of it – cognitive surplus will continue to be made available for collaborative projects like Wikipedia, though as particular individuals cycle through career and family responsibilities their participation may wane, as free-time opportunities return so will their participation.” —Robert Runte, associate professor at the University of Lethbridge

• “Unless they get ‘stung’ by ID theft or their children’s baby pictures are used perversely, they will continue to be ambient broadcasters.” —Bonita E. Lay, president of Achieve! International, a leadership and organizational development firm

• “As an ‘early adopter’ Gen X’er, I can only tell you that I do not see myself outgrowing online social networking. I’m not sure how online networking tools might evolve in the future, but their development will certainly be heavily influenced by user feedback; I have no doubt about that. I’m about to visit with a childhood friend who lives on the other side of the continent and who I haven’t been in contact with for many years, until recently via Facebook. Many of my Gen X and Gen Y friends are rekindling friendships in similar ways. We’re mobile and scattered so we appreciate tools that help us keep our support networks intact.” Lori Langone, research specialist, Michigan Economic Development Corporation

• “Having complete access to others is like an addicting drug. The GenY’ers will continue being social in the digital world, divulging and sharing everything.” —Louis L. Vigliotti, Great Neck Public Schools

• “While I think that Gen Y will get more savvy about the consequences of sharing personal information, I also think that the habits they’ve developed as digital natives will last forever. They may have less time for socializing, but they’ll still do it in ways similar to what they do now.” Pam Heath, principal with Jensen Heath (communications consulting firm), trustee for HistoryLink.org, the first online history encyclopedia created for the Internet

• “All generations have become more accepting of sharing information about themselves, and I doubt that will change in the next decade.” —Jon Faucette, manager of in-house design for The Segal Company, New York

• “As a part of that maturation process, like every generation before them, they will learn that sharing personal information has consequences – and not always intended or good ones. They will learn to be more judicious in what they share and with whom, but they will continue to understand the value of sharing.” —Heywood Sloane, managing director, Bank Insurance & Securities Association Diversified Services Group

• “Even as they age, I believe Millennials will continue to embrace the practices with which they have grown. Sure, they will develop new interests and commitments, but I believe they will also continue to use social media to enhance those interests and commitments.” Bill Sheridan, e-communications manager and editor for the Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants

• “Social media will be a fundamental part of life moving forward. A certain percentage will continue to ‘live out loud’ while others will use privacy and filtering tools to limit what they say to whom. In general people will post/share more and look for commonalities, recommendations and advice. Social media will restore our faith in the wisdom of common people and in the power of collective thought and discussion.” —Daniel Flamberg, blogger at iMedia Connections and senior vice president of interactive marketing at Juice Pharma Advertising

• “The way people find and use information, and communicate with each other, have fundamentally changed. Yes, I think Gen Y’ers will find new interests and shift how they use social networks (perhaps being more protective of their time), but I don’t think it will go away.” Christine Hamilton–Pennell, president of Growing Local Economies, Inc.

• “I don’t see Gen Y leaving their current interest in staying connected via the use of Internet-related tools.” —Gerald Sweitzer, principal at Non-Profit Success, a consultancy providing support and visioning or non-profit and community organizations

• “My cohort analysis research has found evidence that the media popular during young adulthood remains the media of choice throughout the lives of a generation. There is only a relatively small aging or maturational effect. As the current media users pass through adulthood and positions of power, the society will reflect their preferences established in young adulthood.” —James A. Danowski, professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, founder of the Communication and Technology Division of the International Communication Association

• “We’re currently in the early years of sharing so much personal information; as people get burned, they will restrict or limit the amount of personal information they are willing to share – especially if information transfer results in a financial cost (such as amount of time online) to them.” Jarice Hanson, professor at Temple University and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst

• “The professional and social benefits of information sharing will continue to grow, and Generation Y will continue to play an active role in that sharing. Part of the additional value that will be added to this practice will be the continued adoption of information sharing by Gen Y’s elders – thereby improving the social networks by adding more participants, and simultaneously lessening the noteworthiness of participating. Simply put, this won’t even be a question in 2020. Every generation will participate in social networking and reaping the benefits of digital communities, and no one will remember why we thought it was strange in 2010.” —Steve Rozillis, senior digital marketing manager for a major US insurance company

• “As people get a life, their circles of friends and activity tend to diversify, and the broadcast model no longer makes sense. Moreover, as they gather more of a history, they will have different attitudes to exposing all this (many young people have already deleted a host of previous ‘lives’ on older social networking sites, etc.). However, younger generations make less of a distinction between work, friends, and family spheres, and so it will tend to be quite different from older generations. I expect the narcissism to wane, but not to go away.” —Patrick Schmitz, semantic services architect, University of California Berkeley

• “Although digital natives will continue to use social networks, multiplayer games and other online tools, I think their use will decline and plateau as they age and start families. There simply won’t be as much time to devote, so they will become more selective with their sharing. Online sharing will be an integral part of their lives but it will be a more controlled one.” —Nikhat Rasheed, project manager, researcher and evaluation consultant at XCG, Inc.

• “This is already happening among many early adopters who are continuing into careers with much of their past publicly available across the Internet. By 2020 I foresee a blurring of public and private lives and for minor past indiscretions no longer to be an issue for public figures but simply understood as part of the modern shared lives.” —Darren Lilleker, senior lecturer and director of Centre for Public Communication Research, Bournemouth University, UK

• “The social interests of young people are unique to their station in life, so the sheer volume and intensity of their online lives may subside with time. However, the habits and attitudes formed by Generation Y and Millennials related to sharing their lives online will be with them through their lives.” —John Pearson, senior manager of digital services for Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media

• “Digital natives haven’t experienced life in any other way – why would we expect them to change?” —Kerry Rice, president, TeacherStream, assistant professor, Department of Educational Technology, Boise State University

• “We have always had people who overshare, and we will always have young people who do not see the future consequences of their actions. I think we’ll settle into a happy medium where new social rules evolve out of collective wisdom and a series of high-profile mistakes. Parents and educators will likely take a more active role in teaching next generations new social rules and behavior.” —Kassia Krozser, Oxford MediaWorks, co-founder of Medialoper.com, consultant at Sony Pictures Entertainment

• “I am not of Generation Y, but my children are, and I suspect that their interest in information sharing will not ebb. They will become busier and this will give them less time for connecting via the Internet, but I don’t think it will be due to ‘growing out’ of the enthusiasm.” —Sandra Kelly, market research manager for 3M Company

• “As more ‘digital natives’ experience the caveats of sharing personal information on the Internet, there will be more restraint to general broadcast. I believe people will be more discriminating in what and with whom they share information with others or make public. Being a victim of Internet abuse or bullying can contribute to the change in the Internet culture. The revolt over children’s privacy in the late 1998-2001 changed the behavior of most businesses in the United States. The trade-off of personal information for privacy can only be controlled by the Internet user.” —Thomas Creely, associate director of the Center for Ethics and Corporate Responsibility at the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University and principal at Creely Consulting, LLC

• “All of this sharing stuff is a trend that will level off over time. Right now we’re in the Big Bang phase of social. Remember chat rooms? I rest my case.” —Rich Levin, senior vice president and editor-in-chief of Gregory FCA Communications

• “I’m the father of Millennials and I still love riding roller coasters. Why shouldn’t they continue to do the things they love – mostly likely tempered by the wisdom of experience, but still engaged.” David Moskowitz, principal consultant at Productivity Solutions Inc. and lead editor of OS/2 Warp Unleashed, a consultant and editor on new and emerging technology

• “Generation Y through force and fear of corporate and government intrusion will embrace encryption and other expressions of privacy as they create secure forms of shielded networking. These maturing digital natives will continue to share information, but share it judiciously according to self-imposed limits and necessary restrictions. They will refine and adeptly manage their social and professional networks. By 2018 creators of electronic data will have the option of embedding highly effective self-destructing time stamps into their electronic universe. Many of Generation Y will have learned the value of robust Internet avatars, which they will send onto the Web to guide and direct their search for meaning.” —Ebenezer Baldwin Bowles, founder and managing editor of corndancer.com, an independent online journal and cyber community, writer, activist and teacher

• “Behavior and habits are hard to break. If there is a social trend that greatly influences change in this behavior then a shift will occur.” Tery Spataro, chief executive officer and founder of Mindarrays Consulting

• “This is related to the social networking question. You share personal information with your network friends. Generation Y’s friends are digital natives as well. Yes, they will continue to share information because the sharing of information is a social lubricant to members of Generation Y.” —Robert Lunn, principal of FocalPoint Analytics and senior researcher for USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future, formerly director of surveys at J.D. Power and Associates

• “Over the next 10 years today’s so-called ‘digital natives’ (thanks John Palfrey…) will be presented with a couple of new generations of networking tools. As they mature, they’ll put these tools to mature uses. As they mature they’ll be more concerned for personal security, but they’ll be habituated to the sharing of personal information on the net. Generation Y will carry forward their leisure time interests in social games and networks (as distinct from couch bound one-way TV entertainments). They’ll continue to use networked tools as much or more as they do today, but the mix of uses will change with maturity.” —Frank Paynter, Sandhill Technologies, LLC

• “This supposed transparency will change, as more people recognize what is at risk. They will accelerate the trend toward personification, wherein one creates and nurtures an online personality (or multiples) that may be quite different from themselves. By selecting what information is shared for each personality, they can project a public image with whatever flavor they choose. I’ve seen this behavior already in middle-school kids, and I think it will change the game when these generations reach the mainstream.” —Mark Richmond, technologist for US District Courts, founding board member of the National Online Media Association (1993)

• “After an age of excesses (the roaring ’90s), I hope narcissism comes under check in the following decade.” —Lorenzo Moreno, senior researcher, Mathematica Policy Research, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

• “I would add that one can only hope the trend to ‘personal branding’ as in the surge in visible tattoos, will also abate. That said, popular culture today tends to inculcate narcissistic values, and unless media content and presentation change, narcissism is likely to increase as well.” —Gregory Zerovnik, marketing and public relations director for the San Bernardino County Library

• “This way of being is completely ingrained in their DNA now. The challenge will be for older generations to accept that expectations on sharing have changed, and to modify behavior and employment norms to take this into account.” —Chris Jacobs, chief operating officer, Solutions for Progress, Inc.

• “I think it’s already Gen Z, but the diginatives will continue to share a great deal of information and trivia online. However, they will get smarter and more selective about it in terms of privacy and, dare I use such an old-fashioned term, propriety.” —David Jensen, self-described as an “aging hippie generalist”

• “Absolutely. Those with a penchant to share and broadcast their personal information will continue to do so even as they age and pass through milestones of their lives. The nature of their work, their opportunities in all facets of their lives will continue to support this sharing.” —Paul Gibler, principal consultant, ConnectingDots

• “The overwhelming domination of social networking as a business tool and source of personal validation (of a sort) will continue and outweigh concern (awareness?) of the low-profile but widely applied collection of personal data.” —John Beam, principal at Pumphouse Project, providing services for organizations involved in education justice, human rights and youth development

• “My son, 26 years old and a ‘digital native’ was an EverQuest addict all through high school. Now, in law school, he knows that he cannot allow the game back into his life for it will consume all other interests. Full time work, marriage, family, staying out of debt – they’ll grow up just like we all did. On the other hand, after the kids are in bed and the dishes are done, it’s nice to ‘hang out’ with friends near and far on-line. That, I think, is here to stay.” Susan Hileman, self-described “domestic goddess,” retired

• “How much people are willing to share online also depends on other issues, such as online surveillance (by authorities), commercial companies’ (such as Facebook) user agreements, etc.” Bente Kalsnes, communication advisor at Origo.no and online journalist

• “Social networking technologies have redefined ‘normal’ and allow more and broader social participation. The challenge is widespread access and to teach people to be technology-literate.” —Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, instructor of media psychology at the University of California-Los Angeles Extension

• “Sharing will continue unabated in the face of growing privacy concerns. People will get much more adept at managing their privacy and the stigma of drunkerd pictures or indiscreet videos on a Facebook profile will be massively diminished as Gen Y hits climbs the career ladder.” —Sam Michel, founder and managing director, Chinwag

• “The enthusiasm for widespread information-sharing with the whole world will likely abate, but not the enthusiasm for such sharing with a select group. In a way, I expect social networks to become more stable, rather than today’s scatterbrained collection of mindless blog broadcasting (which will still continue with generation in some new form).” —Wojciech Dec, a network consulting engineer within the Edge Engineering Group of Cisco’s Internet Technologies Division

• “The logical outcome would be for them to continue sharing. Even today we see how blogs often change, grow, and go through various stages as the blogger enters new phases of life: from, e.g, a media blog, to a more academic blog if the person in question gets a new job, to a baby blog, then a parenthood blog, etc. I’ve seen several instances of this, but I also think that policy changes from major social network providers could change this culture of sharing. I’m particularly worried about the privacy aspects long term.” Kristine Lowe, founder, Norwegian Online News Association, media journalist, blogger and columnist

• “It appears that each generation becomes ever more fascinated with itself. I don’t believe the culture currently has the ability to mature children into adults, and without a seismic shift in the way we raise our young, they will grow up to be aging adolescents. Their narcissism will survive well into their adult years and technology will only enhance it.” Daniel Weiss, senior analyst for media and sexuality at Focus on the Family Action

• “The current generation of Internet users will continue to broadcast more and more information about themselves as they grow older. These behaviors are the signals of a cultural shift on par with the introduction of rock and roll. The Baby Boomers never let go of their rock and roll, and Generation Y likely won’t let go of their fixation with broadcasting their every move. Indeed, as Gen Y grows older and starts their own families, they will become more interested in using the Internet to share their lives with anyone who is interested.” —Cenate Pruitt, graduate student, department of sociology, Georgia State University

• “Sharing is the natural state of humans, in general. Our Industrial Age culture developed because our education and social systems adapted to that prevailing economy. It is a culture developed around the concept of competition for scarce resources. Primeval culture, the original reason for humans to socialize, is based on abundance by contribution. ‘Digital natives’ will show the ‘digital immigrants’ the abundance in the power of contribution. And even then some of us will still remain ‘digital undocumented workers.’” Jack Holt, senior strategist for emerging media, Department of Defense, Defense Media Activity, chief of new media operations, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs

• “Technology is going to shift significantly between now and 2020. I think that Facebook got it right with the idea of building networks around common interests, and those types of systems will continue to grow. I don’t see the Twitter phenomenon as being sustainable – eventually people will realize that nobody cares to know when one is going to the bathroom. The Millennial generation has to care eventually about what others think about them. The book Generation Me by Jean Twenge should be required reading for every 9th grade student, and again in the first year of college.” Colin Walker, marketing coordinator for the City of Bellevue, Washington

• “For the majority, ‘digital natives’ will always be ‘digital natives’ at heart, just like the majority of boomers have always been hippies at heart. They will more than likely abandon the online sharing during their years of child rearing, but there will be a massive resurgence once they decide they decide to rediscover their ‘lost youth,’ so maybe by 2020, online community will be less important as real-life families become dominant, but as the years progress this will switch back again for this generation.” Jacqui Wilkinson, marketing and advertising professional at Directability

• “The values of the Gen Y/Millennials may change but the inherent ‘need’ to interact with others will not in my view. The whole driving force of social media comes from the key word – social. The various social networking sites, in the end, fulfill a basic need to connect emotionally with others. So, while they may not discuss their sexual activities or alcohol consumption as their values change, they will discuss the concerns or feelings that have evolved in the ‘aging process.’” —Michael Castenegra, senior lecturer at the Grady College of Journalism, University of Georgia, and president at Media Strategies and Tactics, Inc.

• “The Internet is one of the most important places both for public discussion and private interaction. That cannot be outgrown. It may have a different application, shape or device.” —Zeynep Tufekci, assistant professor, University of Maryland-Baltimore County and author of the @technosociology blog

• “The amount of sharing will be dependent upon many external elements to the digital natives. If things such as network neutrality keep the Internet open and an increase of economic opportunity remains with the Internet, we will see an increase and continuation of digital natives being broadcasters, connectors, etc. If opportunities decrease due to restraints put upon the Internet infrastructure, participation will also decrease. Lets hope the current decision and policy makers keep the Internet open and a place that encourages participation.” —Peter Rawsthorne, learning systems architect and council member, WikiEducator, IT team lead and solutions architect, Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia

• “Taking advantage of the social, economic, and political opportunities will change as technology develops to a greater and easier manageable stage.” —Jorge Alberto Castaños, specialist in implementation of platforms at Botón Rojo

• “I don’t think Generation Y (if such a broad concept is even useful) will necessarily ‘outgrow’ their use of these platforms, but that their use of them will shift and adapt as their life changes. The use will remain, but the networks, contexts, and sets of information being exchanged will alter.” —Michael Zimmer, assistant professor of media, culture and communication, School of Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

• “It is likely that Gen Y will find themselves rewarded for sharing much personal information, certainly with their own peers and subsequent generations. Their assessment of the current risks is much lower than the generations currently in power, which will result in a major cultural shift. There seems to be no compelling reason for this to change.” —Sally McIntyre, principal online adviser in Australia’s Department of Premier and Cabinet

• “I can see some conservatism creeping into the Millennials’ trend toward information sharing as their life’s baggage begins to accumulate, but I still believe that their willingness to share will far outpace Gen-X and Boomers. For example, I think that electronic medical records will finally catch on due to Millennial adoption. But as personal relationships get more complicated (and have more consequences) with age, they may pull back on that level/detail of sharing.” —Chad Davis, director of production and project development at the Center for Innovative Media at George Washington University

• “Their social networking will continue, but the subject matter will deepen – and less trivia (like reality TV) will be replaced by more substantive interchange. Once people lose their jobs or fail to compete for one because of what they wrote when they were kids – the use will change.” Nancy Bauer, chief executive officer and editor-in-chief of WomenMatter, Inc.

• “We will see a maturation of the existing paradigm. As the risks become more apparent, and specific downsides are exploited, people will begin to ‘tidy up’ their online profiles and ensure that instead of simply sharing everything they ensure only specific information is shared with specific people. We have already seen this taking place in sites such as Facebook, though in many respects this is a case of chicken and egg, in as much as the very tools that we use to share online do not necessarily give us the freedom to share as we would like, i.e. the level of granularity that would be required.” —Rich Osborne, Web manager and Web innovation officer, University of Exeter

• “As Gen Y ages, their willingness to share personal information online will not decline. It is part of their upbringing and they do not know any different. Gen Xers’ and their parents’ willingness to share is evidence that older demographics have an appetite for it today so it is unlikely that Gen Y won’t continue as they age. It will be interesting to see how the definition of ‘personal information’ changes over time.” —Andrew Stulac, account manager, ISL Web Marketing & Development

• “My personal view is that the Web mostly amplifies what has always occurred in the offline world. I think major life events (broken-trust experiences using mobiles or social networking, job interview protocols unearthing online personal information and pictures) and major life transitions (relationships, caring of children, time-intensive careers, etc) will lessen Millennial tendencies to share unequivocally online and commit time to such activities. The activities won’t go away, but will slowly lessen as a priority. Less and less discretionary time will likely force Millennials to continually reassess priorities and adjust online behavior.” Paul DiPerna, research director at Foundation for Educational Choice, conducting surveys, polling, Internet/social media projects

• “The interests of today’s digital natives will change as they get older, have families, and take on more responsibilities, but they won’t ‘grow out’ of their use of social networks and information sharing. That’s a permanent shift that won’t abate.” —Greg Jarboe, president and co-founder, SEO-PR, Search Engine Watch Blog, Market Motive, ChannelOne Marketing Group

• “The Internet is in its infancy. People are playing with it to see what it can do, and how we can share our experiences. This will grow. Who wants to share less of what it means to be alive?” —Jason Nolan, assistant professor, Ryerson University, and founding co-editor of the journal Learning Inquiry

• “These tools, games, and websites will increase exponentially in both ubiquity and ease of use. Many people will forget there was ever concern that these activities may be dangerous; they will be as natural and integrated into our daily lives as in-person interaction.” —Nick Violi, research assistant, University of Maryland

• “The Millennials are learning about the spaces they inhabit, and they are pioneers at what they do. One of the things they are learning about is the value of sharing: what you share, whom you share it with, when you share it. So yes, we will see a change in the pattern of sharing. But it has nothing to do with a change in the willingness to share. It is more about being considerate in their sharing, understanding where they create signal and where they create noise. They will learn. But they are born sharers, and this will not change.” —JP Rangaswami, chief scientist, British Telecommunications

• “Habits of social behavior within a generation change only slowly.” —Robert Curry, artist and technophile with Robert Curry Consulting

• “As users become more mature and experienced, and develop more social circles that might have different expectations, these new users will learn and demand customized features to decide what to share and how.” Seiiti Arata, staff, Internet Governance Forum secretariat, United Nations

• “Gen Y will certainly change their attitude towards privacy, but I’m not convinced they will ‘grow out’ of their oversharing ways. More likely, they will be taken advantage of in various ways and will modify their sharing in ways to protect themselves. New mechanisms and social norms will evolve to regulate the sharing without eliminating it altogether. It will likely continue to feel wrong to old farts like me.” Cameron Price, CTO, Mint Digital, former software design engineer, RealNetworks and Microsoft

• “The willingness to share is already part of the culture of these generations. As they age, they will become less transparent and in many ways I would say more balanced in their disclosures. Eventually the content shared will be more interesting and valuable.” —Tom Golway, global technology director at Thomson Reuters and former CTO at ReadyForTheNet

• “Digital natives and their infectious sharing will continue. While they may not be as active, they will inspire a new generation to do the same. New tools that marry location base, mobile, and devices will also make it less burdensome. So in fact, they will work less to share, but be able to share more intelligently.” R. Ray Wang, partner in The Altimeter Group, blogger on enterprise strategy

• “This question is misguided. Generation Y do not share more information. Some persons in generation Y do this but it is not a majority of them. Generations are similar in personality differences. There will always be shy and guarded persons. I do not believe Gen Y do more sharing and or that they all are like this. This is Internet capitalist hype not a fact. It may also be seen as fear mongers given privacy concerns and it may also be as creating inter-generational conflict.” —Peter Timusk, webmaster and Internet researcher, statistical products manager at Statistics Canada

• “Every generation, it seems, needs to learn their lessons regarding personal privacy, reputation, and public vs. private information. The younger you are, the less you have to manage, from a personal information perspective. However, as individuals progress into their chosen professions and life circumstances, it is inevitable that many lessons are learned the hard way. Unfortunately for some, the Internet never forgets. And worse, it allows for the instant dissemination of personal and private information without the ability to retract. Witness the unfortunate incident of a state trooper using his phone’s camera to send gruesome accident pictures of a decapitation of a young woman, and then the victims family finds these picture on the Internet and there is no way to completely eradicate them.” William Luciw, managing director at Viewpoint West Partners and director at Sezmi Inc., formerly a director of products and stand–up philosopher at several other Silicon Valley companies

• “Enthusiasm for widespread information sharing will abate somewhat as people age and acquire family responsibilities. My reasons for believing his are, first, when we’re young we perceive, I think accurately, that we have less at risk. Second and perhaps more important, as we age and acquire families, the consequences of our actions and the way in which we present ourselves begins to have implications for our husbands, wives, children, and other family members and so we’re no longer guided exclusively by our own sensibilities, but by theirs as well.” —Sean O’Leary, president of MarketLab, Inc.

• “Age and maturity will always offer a seasoned view, a change from the carefree attitudes and actions of youth. Each generation grows up and becomes more like its predecessor. Often this is a shock, yet in many ways this is the natural process. Personal control over data relating to the individual will undergo massive changes between now and 2020, with authorization and voluntary removal more common and more readily available. This will be a correction of the ‘freely shared’ and ‘too much information’ craze that was a part of digital natives’ adoption and excessive embrace of social networks and information sharing in their more formative years.” —Dean Landsman, president of Landsman Communications Group, board member at TeleTruth and participant in project VRM

• “Information sharing is an essential part of the human condition; the Internet broadens the scope beyond face-to-face contacts to ultimately the entire network of connected individuals. Digital natives will become more sophisticated in the amount of personal information they disclose as they trade personal data for free or price-discounted services.” Graham Lovelace, director of Lovelace Consulting Limited

• “The word ‘broadcasters’ is not the correct word. Generation Y acts more like publishers. They don’t push information about themselves to their networks, they post that information and expect their networks to come and get it. Even something like Twitter requires you to ‘subscribe’ to that person’s information. I do think the type of information Gen Y share will mature and evolve over time, only to be replaced by the next generation now publishing their party exploits, gossip, etc. This is a cultural shift, not a fad.” —Chris Marriott, vice president and global managing director, Acxiom Corp.

• “Whatever generation you’re talking about, people get busier as they get older. Thus, they are likely to spend less time yammering on Facebook or playing Bejeweled or whatever. On the other hand, many parents and grandparents share family information via electronic exchange, so people who mature and have families will just use a different part of the information toolkit. In general, technological communication isn’t a phase people go through. It is a method of communicating similar to letters, telephones and in-person visits, and as such will continue to be part of the social spectrum.”—Mary McFarlane, research behavioral scientist, US Centers for Disease Control

• “I don’t think the desire to be transparent and open will necessarily abate. The ability to share info quickly is so prevalent now that it will be part of the fabric of everyday life. Just as we answer the phone now, or grab the mail from our mailbox when we get home from work, the next generation will just naturally use broadcasting tools such as Twitter/Facebook status updates, etc. This dedication to transparency will pore over into their careers. Collaboration and sharing will become the norm and will replace the knowledge-hoarding that goes on in corporate America and in the world of higher education (e.g., faculty vying for tenure).” Allison Anderson, manager of learning innovations and technology at Intel Corporation

• “The level of information sharing by Gen Y has not had any negative repercussions which have impacted people’s willingness to share that information. I would predict that, barring some highly visible misuses of this public information, that there will continue to be widespread information-sharing. Privacy misuses may shape what information is shared, but sharing as a general trend will continue.” Gerrit Huizenga, chair, Vendor Advisory Council, Linux Foundation, architect, IBM

• “I remember being told in college that if you aren’t a liberal in your 20s, your heart isn’t working right, but if you’re not a conservative in your 40s, then your head isn’t. Same like, same like.” —Walt Dickie, executive vice president of C&R Research

• “This horse is out of the barn. Once people are accustomed to sharing greater levels of private information, it’s hard to reverse this behavior, in my experience. The big question is whether people will use this information for any bigger purpose than personal entertainment. Will we move beyond being interested in sharing what we ate for breakfast to a place where we might give a damn whether some kids don’t get a breakfast.” —Tim Marema, vice president of the Center for Rural Strategies;

• “Generation Y grows up to become almost as their parents, just as all the generations that came before.” —Charlie Breindahl, webmaster and lecturer, Danish Centre for Design Research

• “Digital natives will become even more intimate in their disclosures once quantum/biometric security pervades by 2020. digital natives will bind together online all the time to solve problems and make decisions, once collaborative decision-based visualization and creative user-generated authoring tools become available by 2020. However, today’s full-disclosure of personal information will become more subtle. Avatar versions of digital natives will be personally crafted to engage in many of our online collaborations. Such avatars will actually evolve over time, based on disclosure directives from individuals and based on interaction-levels and other scoring mechanisms, to approximate the ‘real’ person. One will ‘get to know’ another through collaborative interactions with their avatar, and progressively disclose the ‘real’ person, hence intimacy.” Steven G. Kukla, product planner, shared no additional work details

• “These behaviors and digital lifestyles the newer generations have grown up on are permanent behavior changes that won’t be adopted simply because they grow older. To believe that, you’d have to believe that these technologies and behaviors are only adopted because the people using them are simply young. The real reason they adopt these technologies is because it makes their lives easier, which is why man went from stone to metal or from horse and buggy to automobiles.” —Steve Ridder, enterprise architect, Cisco

• “They might grow out of it, but, god I hope not.” —Zachary Foley, director of technology for Eclipse Advertising

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