Elon University

The 2010 Survey: Anonymous responses to a tension pair on the willingness of Generation Y/Millennials to share information in the future

Responses to this 2020 scenario were assembled from Internet stakeholders in the2010 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. If you would like to participate in the next survey, mail andersj [at] elon dotedu; include information on your expertise.

Future of Millennials Survey CoverThis page includes responses to a question about people’s perceptions of the likely future of Generation Y/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 the Pew Internet briefing, click here

predictions for the millennials internet chart

Following on this page is a selection of specific elaborations to this question that were made by survey participants who preferred to remain anonymous. About two-thirds of the respondents chose to elaborate on this question.

To read the responses of participants who took credit for their answers to this question, click here.

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?” What follows is a selection of the hundreds of written elaborations from those who did not want to be credited with their remarks:

“Like fat people at the beach or middle-aged women with boob jobs, older Gen Y’s will be comfortable hanging it out for others.”

“Generation Y is heading for a social networking hangover. Big-time. The level of personal information sharing – forever stuck in the web and beyond their control – will haunt many of the as they enter adulthood, like virtual tattoos that cannot be removed.”

“It’s a shame that people will have to live with the less pleasant parts of their pasts, or with being libeled, but it’s a trade off for living a more authentic life.”

“Social networks will be improved and the way we share information will be changed. The way social networks are used today is child´s play compared with the possibilities yet to be developed in the future.”

“Lifecasting and social networking seem almost cute now, but they’re increasingly becoming a vital part of young people’s lives. By 2020, we’ll have a whole generation that has never known life without social networks, videocasting, microblogging, and all of these other ways to share who they are and what they’re doing. They’ll also get more sophisticated with how they’re doing this though and will be more selective as to who sees what.”

“We could pass laws that grant ownership of personal information to citizens, effectively putting vast numbers of data brokers out of business as they are the legal bridge between commerce and crime.”

“There may be an overall greater level of sharing in general, but many GenY’ers will grow out of the intense sharing they currently engage in, while another, smaller group, will continue to share at present levels.”

“In 10 years the Generation Y has not lost its enthusiasm. Why should it lose its enthusiasm in the next 10 years.”

“They will continue but be more sophisticated about how what they post and to whom. There will be more granularity, segmentation and hierarchy in online relationships.”

“Eventually too many people will experience negative consequences of providing personal information. Just one big event that captures our imaginations will stop us from sharing. The Millennials are very trusting now, but something cultural will happen. It always has in the past.”

“Identity theft, reputation and privacy concerns will eventually quell the level of openness but not subvert the basic need for communication and interaction.”

“As work, families and other interests arise, people will do less social media. Also, if data plans continue to be as expensive or more expensive as they are now, people will be priced out of the market.”

“Sure, the young will no longer want to share everything on Facebook. An older generation grew out of the heart-to-heart talks we used to have in high school and college. But older people do share lots. Even if it’s only the Facebook equivalent of the Xmas newsletter, the electronic version is likely to be more and more frequent than today’s printed and mailed Christmas newsletter.”

“There is already no more privacy. Digital natives won’t care; this won’t be an issue.”

“Less than today, but more than any previous generation, just as my generation used email for our social lives.”

“They’ll stop posting as much silly trivia and photos of their now-bald heads, but the desire to be known and to know has soaked in deep. Actually, it was always there – because that desire is what spurred the development in the first place.”

“The definition of ‘personal’ will change and will extend even into health information. What is there to hide and why hide it? I see Gen Y pushing for legislation that allows for full disclosure without consequences.”

“The concept of privacy shifts toward openness, but this was a choice of the individual, not the company controlling a platform. People will understand more when they should opt-out or in.”

“Every generation inevitably grows up. Generation Y will be no exception.”

“At the moment, it seems that people are increasingly willing to disclose information about themselves, even occasionally the most intimate information. I think that this will continue; the returns from social networking for many people outweigh the reluctance to share personal information.”

“Sure they will change and spend less time at non-work stuff as they age like most of us, but their use of the Internet will only transform/morph so that their experience with the social networks with translate into their work. I do believe, however, that privacy will become more of a concern to them and, as is true for most of us, as we age we don’t need to be the spotlight so much as when we were adolescents.”

“Facebook and its like will remain strong, and people will stupidly make information public that should remain private.”

“The sharing will continue, while the nature of such sharing may change. Maybe less online gaming but more social networks for information, and event-sharing.”

“I suspect it will abate somewhat, since nobody can afford to spend as much time on any activity after they have kids and a job than they did before kids and job. But, it will not go down to the same level as the previous generations.”

“Information will be acquired and shared by young people. Most people stop being curious as they grow older and learn enough to make a living.”

“Members of Gen Y are going to find themselves burned professionally and personally by the widespread availability of their personal information and they are going to seek to withdraw from such openness.”

“As they grow, they will have to spend more time in offline activities, such as family, work, etc. So their willingness will change as they age.”

“Many people will still want to tell the world about the details of their lives, however uninteresting.”

“The real answer is somewhere in between.”

“Members of Generation Y will continue to stay involved but they will have to adapt to the new technologies and standards that will exist in 2020.”

“Optimistically, I believe today’s digital natives will continue to use electronic networks but will discover the need to use them more wisely.”

“The word ‘belonging’ holds together the two fundamental aspects of life: being and longing, the longing of our being and the being of our longing. Gen Y will have found new meanings of privacy – like the 60% of U.K. married couples that have had affairs.”

“I don’t accept the basic premise that there is a Generation Y of digital natives. People of different ages and abilities are exploring and using of the Internet in many ways. This diversity of use will continue and expand. There will be greater blending of traditional activities (such as sports) and what are currently regarded as online activities.”

“What age are we even talking about here? Information-sharing and socialization changes with life stage. We will see transitions accordingly for everyone. The biggest age-based shift that is relevant here is when people go from feeling as though being public means that they only have things to gain to when they can start imagining all that they have to lose. Some folks never stop gaining and so they continue to be in public. Others have children and realize that they have something to lose. It’s all about life stage and incentives.”

“Teenagers will probably have a greater output than adults, always, because they are more actively engaged in defining their identity through various forms of communication.”

“The willingness will change and become more conservative, but Gen Y and Millennials will continue to be more willing to share information as it will be so ingrained from these formative years.”

“Maybe (or in Samuel Johnson’s words about second marriages, this may be the ‘triumph of hope over experience’).”

“I have never seen new generations grow tired of their toys.”

“These younger folk have yet to face the protection of their own progeny. It’s kind of like for folks from the 60s-70s when your son or daughter asks you if you smoked pot. ‘Daddy, did you party on Facebook?’ – see what I mean? I have to think that change here will happen for sure, but that humans aren’t fickle to their genetic motivation to procreate (perhaps the greatest test of character we have available.) It’s not so much about ‘growing out’ of habits as it is about using tools differently. There’s probably more of a reason that the older generation plays AARP games online than that they don’t get social media.”

“The sharing will just become more targeted/contained – just like real society.”

“They have always shared and they will continue to share their lives. It’s part of their social identity – why would they stop proclaiming who they are?”

“As a member of ‘Generation X,’ I haven’t noticed a tendency among my peers to disclose less in social forums on the Internet over the past couple of decades. In fact, there’s probably more disclosure as the social tools change. I would think this would be true of the next generation as well.”

“They’ll be more willing than past generations to share, but I think they’ll begin to realize that sometimes there is such a thing as TMI (too much information). It’s a natural part of the maturing process. And they’re going to care less, too, about the minutiae of other people’s lives.”

“They will be replaced by a successor generation – don’t know that the idiots who came up with the term ‘digital native’ will call them, but they’ll be equally interested in using digital media to project their identities. We become more conservative when we have something to conserve – as every generation ages, acquires assets to protect they begin to weigh opportunity costs in new ways. Nothing new about the so-called digital natives.”

“They will grow out of it, as by then it will have delivered their needs; they won’t withdraw entirely, but will cut down as other demands are made on their time. However, the generation that follows them will be just as enthusiastic as Generation Y ever was.”

“Our sense of privacy will continue to change and the broadcast of information personal, professional, and political will no longer be considered out of the ordinary.”

“People will have no choice but to stay online – if only to compete with the flood of other information about them that is gathered and disseminated by other people or organizations.”

“Habits learned as a youth last a long time (indefinitely?).”

“They will continue to share they will be more aware of the privacy issue and the need to share only what they want with who they want.”

“Discussion of online social networking needs to distinguish two things: 1) amount of time devoted to it; 2) how much personal information is revealed. The two things do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. I don’t think online social networking is a passing fad (in the same way the telephone wasn’t a passing fad), but there is no doubt that as Gen Y age they will devote less time to these technologies because of the opportunity cost of their time. Pressures from career and family will dominate. Regarding the tendency for Gen Y to share private information, there surely has to eventually be a realisation that having so many personal details in searchable form on the web has a downside in terms of privacy, as well as providing opportunities.”

“Having kids, jobs and other responsibilities shakes people out of a lot of these less important areas.”

“Ethical approaches toward information (such as the broadcasting attitude) won’t change so easily. It is the way Gen Y perceives the nature itself of information that makes them acting in such a way.”

“The technologies and tools described in the question can be, and increasingly will be, used in privacy-compatible ways.”

“Generation Y is ‘on the bus’ (Tom Wolfe) and will stay on.”

“By 2020 a lot of these folks will have discovered how time-consuming it is to have families, kids, careers, etc.”

“Unfortunately we will continue to be deluged with trivia from the mundane.”

“There will be diversity, with people staying almost ‘biologically’ online along Cory Doctorow’s visions, and people who decide to stay almost completely offline.”

“At the same time privacy itself will continue to erode, and lose its place on center stage.”

“I feel we are exploring a new paradigm for expressing ‘identity.’ The Internet has enabled individuals to formulate and express their ‘identity’ in a very public way. Such expressions are no longer limited to one’s immediate social network, and are interacting in complex ways with ‘identities’ that are expressed in institutional settings, such as the workplace. Since this is a period of exploration and discovery of consequences, I expect the norms for doing so to evolve, but I don’t expect the process to be reversed.”

“Generation Y and Millennials are simply cast from a different mold in which previous generation’s restrictions on privacy and sharing no longer apply.”

“This trend is likely to be one-way. Once information is shared, it cannot be withdrawn.”

“I’m agreeing with disclosure only because I believe that a change is coming. I don’t know how far that change will go or what form it will take, but it will be different than the circumstances that resulted as I matured, which are more closely aligned with the model that says we become more circumspect (or private) in our disclosures as we mature.”

“People will be forced to share, as sharing prevent leaking – which is much more damaging. This process has nothing to do with multiplayer games that are indeed waste of time.”

“As my son often reminds me, ‘Get over it, ma; personal doesn’t exist.’ We’ve all seen the trend to living life as an open book. That’s not going to change. If anything, this need to share and reflect through social networks is going to be amplified with age. You’re less busy ‘living’ and have more time to ‘reflect’ and savor the networks you’ve built up through the years.”

“Their use of social networks, multiplayer online games and other time-consuming, transparency-engendering online tools may decline as they age, but they will still ‘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.’ (The two options to not exclude one another.) Even if their overall use of social networking declines as they age, their late-life equilibrium will be much higher than our own.”

“The social part of the human condition is at its core and won’t diminish but could be radically redefined by 2020.”

“I hope they will grow out of too much use of the Internet for many things, and keep using it for important things. I hope they will learn not to put too much about themselves where everyone can see it.”

“Digital natives will expect to be able to share information with who they want to share it with, but will not all want to share it with the world. In other words, they will be more sophisticated about their use of online tools than they are today.”

“Going forward? Electronic exhibitionism is burrowing backwards into generations past that didn’t grow up with so much as a scientific calculator. Do I need to share with you how many times my early baby-boomer relatives post the details of their ‘silver pastimes’ as a status update on Facebook?”

“The standards will change. The privacy fetishists (me for example) will get old and die off and the generation that has exposed their private information will set the standards in hiring and promotion. That generation will not care that the drunk party pictures of their new hire are online – they will expect it. For the same reason I don’t wear a coat and tie whenever I go out (and yet my grandfather would have) the existence of formerly considered private information online will become unimportant.”

“The answer is in the middle – less personal info, or more discriminating about who they share with but they will be high users of technology to share and connect. They’ve grown up with it and it will not go away. Just as a teen from the ’60s spent hours on the phone years later they still use it but more selectively.”

“It might reduce slightly, but at the same time a new generation, and children of the first digital natives may start to take us in new directions. Much may depend on the rules (and norms) we put in place between now and 2015.”

“Sharing has become very ingrained in this generation and it is not something, IMHO, that this generation is likely to grow out of. How many 40-year-old men still play video games?”

“People like what they are used to and what they like/have liked. With practise and experience their information sharing may develop into more of a wiser and common good.”

“There is a fundamental shift in our conception of privacy as a result of the willingness of people to disclose information with each other online. This is probably the next logical phase in a century-old shift in our conception of what is private and what has relevance in the public sphere. Certainly we can see earlier struggles around feminist consciousness raising (the personal is the political) or public nudity in the 1960s or the gay rights movement of recent decades. Those models suggest that there is a general shift towards more public disclosure and a greater recognition of the value of personal experience. But there is also a conservative force exerted by the family and the workplace that serves to contain some of the extremes of public disclosure. My sense is that the current generation will continue to value disclosure but develop a fuller recognition of the risks of disclosure and demand better mechanisms for managing it. As adults, they will disclose more than would be comfortable for current adults, but less than they are doing now.”

“This is the world in which they have grown up and are familiar. Although the types of information and the ways in which they share it will likely change, they will continue to share information.”

“The behavior will remain – but it will change to reflect changing personal and family priorities. For example, individuals will probably become less likely to share personal information online as they are impacted negatively by it – or know people who are.”

“I am pessimistic about future generations’ ability to say ‘no’ to the wired world.”

“Gen Y will mature and modify their connected behavior to some extent. But they will be ambient broadcasters all of their lives.”

“And they will have become more educated to the dangers of sharing their personal information on the World Wide Web as they are hounded by marketers, citizens, and governments who will relentlessly bombard them with e-invites and wall postings of offers and information.”

“These younger users will maintain their enthusiasm for connection and information-sharing, but will gradually change the way they do it as they age, in order to make it fit in with their lives. I suspect that a lot of them will become more discreet in what they disclose – particularly those who experience difficulties with ID theft or problems finding jobs/mates as a result of some early lack of judgment.”

“They will grow out of their social network obsessions however, these platforms have not existed in the past and their presence now will result in a different kind of grown-up than we have seen to date. Just what that will be and how inclined to put their business in the street, or on the net, is hard to say.”

“Information sharing will grow to a definite point then recede slowly.”

“Digital natives will keep on socializing and sharing information in online social spaces. However, it is likely that for-profit organizations (be they traditional or new) will get a more active role in such environments, trying to guide their future developments towards a more broadcast-like mode.”

“Because information-sharing and disclosure is so easily accessible now, as Generation Y begins to take advantage of social, economic and political opportunities, it will become expected that they have a great deal of personal information available to all. This information-sharing allows community members to feel a connection to the sharer, which will become an expectation for public figures in the future.”

“They will learn that less is more.”

“My answers support advancement of knowledge and progress via the steep rise in increased online social interactions evident now. There will be increased readiness to disclose more about oneself online as well as to recognize the value of sharing sought-after information and learning opportunities.”

“Generation Y will extend adolescent use into the 30s.”

“This generation will continue to make use of the Internet and the sharing of information online. However, as they experience the conflicting demands and commitments of their lives, they will not use it as extensively as currently and will allocate their time and resources across a broader range of activities and commitments.”

“The genie’s out of the bottle and it’s not just relegated to Gen Y/Millennials. We see this behavior developing in wider demos.”

“This is an ignorant question. Generation Y means so little to the Internet platform, which is something that ALL ages use.”

“It’s very possible the Internet’s non-stop delivery of attention will sooth this very needy, very emotionally unstable generation.”

“It will be as ubiquitous as the telephone. Nothing will stay the same as these technologies and their use morph over time.”

“Well that enthusiasm will be natural, not just the mood of life these days is being.”

“Generation Y will learn the hard way that too much sharing of personal information can be a double-edged sword. They will be less willing to disclose personal information but will continue to heavily utilize the Internet for social interaction, gaming, and news.”

“Generation Y will gain a new form of sharing: something less schizophrenic than actual but I think will be normal sharing of the real life with the digital life in a more focused manner. The technology will enable new efficient and secure ways to do that.”

“I see no reason why Gen Y would back off from digital connectivity. While there is an advantage in connecting with their superiors and older generations on the terms of the previous generation, the advantages of access to other forms of communication give them more power that they will not want to give up. Besides they have to remain invested in new communication technologies since their children will be more ensconced in this world.”

“The organizational changes we are seeing as a result of the growth of this digital culture are deep and likely to remain. Organizational communication scholars are already able to measure the shifts, and they are glacial in size but avalanche in speed.”

“They have grown in this ambient setting, they have it in their spirit, they will continue, at their own rhythm.”

“There will be more connecting with the world, albeit with more niches. There will be more choice. We will be able to see more of the world, and world leaders will be more accessible to us. We also will have new media leaders who may abuse the new communications. I’m hoping there will be more transparency so corporations will be able to get away with less – so we won’t have another economic catastrophe caused by the financial fat cats in New York.”

“We’ll see a convergence of community networks, the bluring of the lines between blogging, Facebook, Tumblr, MySpace, and whatever comes next.”

“The opportunities afforded to those who share will always be greater than for those who hoard or don’t share in a networked economy. Sharing is a way of demonstrating that you’re alive, and a way to create a signal that is more meaningful than noise. Though Gen Y may become more intentional, savvy, and cautious about sharing, they will continue to share in increasing amounts – and with the flood of information they produce, will achieve an effective kind of ‘anonymity among the masses.’”

“If they can’t earn money doing it, they will find something else to do.”

“Human nature will not change. People mature and their interests change over time. While Generation Y will remain Internet-savvy all their lives, it is unlikely that they will spend their later years on Facebook and playing multi-user games.”

“We are in the process of redefining privacy. In 10 years, we will all have a better idea about how to think about transparency in our lives.”

“Because of the information explosion, the need to share it will characterize our society in the future. This will increasingly filtrate into our work lifestyles and become more refined and sophisticated in our social communication.”

“Privacy will be a major issue but social networking will develop different grades of personal information sharing.”

“I was an early adopter, it’s been 13 years of public TMI, and I now regret a lot of it. I predict they will too.”

“Much like an individual who has to be hospitalized for any length of time loses a lot of their inhibitions in terms of allowing others to help with their personal needs this group will have lost a lot of sensitivity regarding what is ‘personal’ and what is not and so will continue to do what they have always done.”

“It’s unlikely that people who ‘matured’ and reached adulthood through self-absorbed dispensation of personal actions, feelings, and observations in minute detail realize how boring the result is, how much it may expose them to unscrupulous characters, or how they must learn to be circumspect and balance privacy/propriety with openness/sharing before actually having personal experience with highly negative consequences from their previous actions.”

“Sharing information about oneself is a fundamentally human activity – I hope that people become slightly more circumspect about what information they are sharing and are more knowledgeable about who they are potentially sharing it to (marketers, governments, etc), but I can’t see the overall Web 2.0 trend abating particularly quickly.”

“This generation will be trapped in this cloud and never know that privacy – for instance – is a good thing.”

“The only hope is they learn from the mess they are creating and prevent their children from releasing all their private information.”

“They will always see content as something to share, change, personalize, and evolve, and they will teach their children that as well. They will rally against others’ efforts to control information and expect instant answers, as well as multiple answers rather than just one.”

“Someone has to teach you about appropriate boundaries. No one taught the digital natives about the importance of appropriate boundaries and how to set the boundaries. It will be difficult for them to learn about this. Additionally, when they realize they need to learn how to set and maintain boundaries, much of what they would have wanted to keep private will already be available on the Internet and difficult to remove.”

“As more fraudsters catch on to the use of social networks, there will be a backlash.”

“This generation was taught by technology and will remain with technology. As they raise a family the changes may occur when they see what has happened to their own lives but I doubt it. However, that being said, the indulged generation may see that a down-to-earth lifestyle makes for a better earth. But the technology for use on computers, smartphones, home digital, etc., will increase and create a techno world for ease, instant gratification, etc. Values and practices might change once this generation has had a series of incidents where they experience a negative impact of telling all on the web, Facebook, etc. If it doesn’t hit them personally it won’t change.”

“The disclosure will only increase. Perhaps the filtering will become better.”

“Their enthusiasm will remain; their outlets transmute.”

“Gen Y are masters of the digital world. But as they age they will want to keep their lives private and begin to limit their networks to a few work and social interactions. The technology has been racing ahead of our ability to incorporate it into work, social and family environments. Unless it produces substantial and tangible results for an individual the use will level off.”

“I’ll be 40 next year, and use social media much like the current digital natives do. In many cases, I’m actually ahead of my 19- and 17-year-old kids. I see things becoming more open in the future as people embrace the freedom that the technology provides.”

“There is no force on earth that can stop this short of nuclear warfare.”

“Their willingness to bare their souls may change a little over time, but barring any major incident, this generation will be unmatched in their openness compared to Gen X, or Boomers.”

“The principles that drive today’s Generation Y will remain in place but that will lead to them continuing to adapt and utilize new and more powerful applications that will come along for information sharing. Hopefully increased lifetime information sharing will lead to a more open and tolerant society.”

“Generation Y will carry with it effects of their early exposure to Facebook, Twittering, e-mail, etc. throughout their lives. They recognize and welcome the availability of closer contact with friends and family as they move around and out into the wider world, as well as the opportunity to develop online relationships with people throughout the world with whom they share common interests. I believe that the majority of this group will continue to use many of the social resources available on the Internet because the perspective and concept is so intertwined with the lifestyle they’ve grown up with, although they are likely to become more discriminating about personal information they disclose to strangers. They are, indeed, a new generation!”

“All this sharing is a stage. You can already see the trend in the number of folks dropping out of Facebook, etc. At some point, people realize that sharing every nano-detail with the world is pointless – and a waste of time.”

“This is already occurring today with people aged 30+ who have learned to use Facebook, chats and Twitter. They did it on their own or pushed by their environment, profession or friends.”

“What we now consider ‘different’ will not be so in a few years time. People who have grown with a particular understanding of social relations will probably maintain it throughout their existence.”

“They may be more aware of the implications of disclosure of detailed personal information but information sharing and online social networking is here to stay. While one can modify or erase Internet content, it’s never gone forever, rather available through archives and cached versions. One cannot delete a Facebook account!”

“They do not know a world where this was not routine and will not suddenly revert to another mode of being.”

“Age is the great equalizer.”

“As Gen Y and Millennials begin to enter the adult workforce they will recognize the damage their openness has caused. They will continue to utilize social networks but will actively filter the information they choose to share.”

“Something new will come along that will captivate the younger generations. Sure, there will always be a younger generation who feels empowered that everyone can see the information they share, but I think that will begin stopping after college. There will be more filtering (built-in or self-filtration) of who sees what as generations age. We will come to realize that we are endangering ourselves by providing all of this information. Games will never go away. It’s the grown-up form of video games, but with interaction. People crave interaction, but as the World gets bigger and people move anywhere and everywhere for their careers, Internet socialization tools will continue to be popular. Who can keep up with e-mail, anyway?”

‘We’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg and things will become even more digital in the future. Many will get left behind.”

“Social norms will probably arise that shape what people choose to say, resembling the manners of other person-to-person interactions.”

“1950s and ’60s babies got tired of outdoor life health exercise and rock n roll.”

“What they share and how they share it will mature.”

“Depends if those GenY’ers can get employment and realize that there can be an actual life beyond the digital. No-child-left-behind students are waiting for others to do everything for them and think they can have their toys and be taken care of also.”

“The Web as a social medium brings with it the full range of human experience and as such creates a limit on personal openness. There are perils and those lessons will be learned.”

“The mediums we choose to use will continue to evolve, but for the most part, the patterns are established.”

“Since they are so connected today, I suspect that most will feel quite insecure about striking out ‘for themselves’ and leaving the connected world behind. Gaming will continue to grow as the predominant pastime for these people, along with the other time-consuming pastimes will continue, since they will grow to depend on them, and feel ‘alone’ when not using such means.”

“Sharing information will continue, but tools for fine-grained shaping and managing off dissemination will rule the landscape.”

“Increasing exposure of the negative aspects of personal data availability (ID theft, legal and professional debacles, etc.) will also drive a movement away from personal-data nonchalance attitudes that are part of the maturing process in the still-nascent datasphere.”

“Today’s Generation Y is already trained in responses. They see no downsides to an overwhelming broadcast of information. Most will not change unless there is a total change brought on by extreme reactions by the vast majority of employers, friends, etc., to the posting of information.”

“Judging by past generations, the Millennials may move on to other interests as they get older. That doesn’t mean, however, that they will abandon their social networking. They may just share less or differently, at least. Sharing information is too pervasive among all age groups now for it to disappear, but younger people make be more judicious in their sharing as they mature.”

“The Gen Yers can’t help themselves – their lives are online now in ways the older generation will never understand. It’s engrained and there’s no help for it. In the 1940s and 1950s, news was not instantaneously broadcast – it took time to disseminate. The 1960s, however, brought television – which changed a generation forever. I am of that generation. I could never go back and these kids today can never go back.”

“Youth are always free to explore and experiment. Adults will always have more responsibilities than time. This has been true throughout history.”

“As personality theft and misuse of personal information will grow, people will become tired of exhibiting personal information on the Internet. There will be global warnings and a policy to prevent misuse and to make people aware of the risks. They will begin by nicknaming and in time they will see that their lives are not so very interesting to (many) others; they will make small communities to share their lives.”

“I don’t find that Millennials really are that different from other groups with substantial amounts of discretionary time. We will see substantial life-cycle effects that underpin the demographics. Teenagers in 2020 will be just as self-absorbed, and as much ambient broadcasters as they are today. Probably technology will have further enhanced their ability to do this. As Millennials get bogged down in the double squeeze of caring for children and parents, their children and parents with discretionary time will surpass their activity in these areas. For society as a whole, the sum effect may be that these behaviors are more widespread in the population and it matters less what this particular demographic is doing.”

“The underlying assumptions about Gen Y look hokey to me. I hope that real self-actualizing people do their own thing irrespective of when they were born.”

“Digital natives seemed to be wired differently. I don’t think their love for sharing information and their lives will wane at all. The use and consumption might change somewhat, but the generally social nature of their lives carried out online for the world to see will not.”

“I don’t think it is fair to say an entire generation will be lifecasters. The individual will determine how much privacy he or she wants or how much information he or she wants to share.”

“As technologies evolve to support easier-to-manage privacy controls, people will be more private. But forced to choose between privacy and sharing, most digital native will continue to favor sharing.”

“Members of Generation Y will likely continue to be willing to disclose personal information through social networks, games and other tools. That the fastest-growing age groups on the social network Facebook are people older than Generation Y’ers tells me people’s willingness to share will only grow, no matter what age group they belong to.”

“The true repercussions of too much loose personal information will manifest themselves, and people will become better about making decisions on what they share.”

“As they age, the Millennials will of course focus on other interests, activities, and commitments – this has been true of every generation in our time. But some of the values they learned in their youth will endure; they will be more open to sharing than previous generations, and will be so for all of their lives.”

“People who are not ‘digital natives’ at whatever stage of life seem to want to share a lot more information than I need to know about them. I do not see this as a maturity issue.”

“As people grow older they continuously seek out attachments, which is made easier by putting their information out there. Plus, unless they suffer a calamity such as identity theft, they are unlikely to change their behavior and see it as harmless.”

“As Millennials begin to use these tools more and more, social media and information-sharing becomes an integral part of their (our) lives. While the frequency of use and type of information being shared could change over time, short-term evidence has shown that Millennials use these tools even after they marry, have families, and pursue careers.”

“They will be so used to that social sphere, it would seem there will be few reasons to go away from it.”

“It’s unfortunate that those who have the least to say speak the loudest.”

“Use of broader and more significant information will decrease as prior knowledge about significant developments and reading comprehension in general collapses. But people will still love writing about themselves.”

“Howard Gardener looks at multiple intelligences. Others describe personality types and relate them to preferred methods of knowledge acquisition. Cultural biases play another role in knowledge acquisition preferences. Each generation will go through life stages that pull and push at existing methods of communication and ways of accomplishing work. We will always see a need for connecting with others; how we accomplish it will change as technology changes and as our needs change.”

“The applications we use in 2020 won’t look much like today’s Twitter or Facebook or Foursquare – these services are already growing out of the scale where the individual tribes still work, and they’ll eventually go the way of Usenet: Sticking around in a dark corner, and all the interesting stuff has moved on elsewhere. Yet, privacy attitudes will have changed even further, and transparency of personal lives will have increased, for better or worse.”

“By 2020, Gen Y’ers will continue to connect and provide personal details, they will be joined by a mashup of all generations in a melting-pot of personal information that will enhance society.”

“All that Generation Y has ever known is being connected. They will believe that ‘going backwards’ is not possible for their lifestyle. They will continue to enhance their digital lives, and share information in exponentially larger volumes and in a fraction of the time. Their attention-deficit practices of wanting it now will continue.”

“It’s the new normal. Gen X’ers like myself are still skateboarding, gaming, etc., just like we did as kids. We may not quite count as digital natives, but we were among the early adopters – my first non-game-oriented computer was an Apple IIe when I was 10. The world’s getting smaller. This isn’t a door that can be closed short of the complete absence of electricity.”

“The way Millennials have learned to communicate, to relate to others is foremost through mobile and social means. The boundaries of personal information have been redefined by this generation.”

“Surely, but their online persona will become their ‘work’ persona, their offline persona will be their ‘real’ persona, as was originally intended.”

“They’re going to get married, have kids, and their lives will change. However, they will be replaced with a new generation of young adults who have grown up with all of these tools and more (like location-enabled mobile services, alternative-reality games, and more) and we will see a new wave of innovation.”

“Enter, I would think, new political structures based on Internet participation changes; these will create social changes and consequently change values and practices.”

“It will continue, and change. Ambient information sharing will become less of a play toy and more practical and culturally expressive. Who gets access to what when will be much more granular, and we will have software agents managing complex preferences on which information is shared with whom when.”

“Digital natives take ‘always-on’ for granted and haven’t experienced much else. For them it will be a normal way of life to be constantly connected and that will continue into their adulthood.”

“Andy Warhol’s prediction, ‘In the future, everybody will be world-famous for 15 minutes,’ has come to pass and the thrill is already wearing off. I know several musicians, for example, who complain about having to maintain their Web presence in so many different places. What felt like fun a year or so ago, now feels like work. I believe that interest in social media is about to peak and will wane somewhat by 2020.”

“It will abate as it always does as adolescents grow into adults with more serious commitments than friends. But this ignores the fact that as GenY’ers have grown up with these platforms, their diffusion into the office will be met with much less skepticism than that from their older colleagues. Younger workers will increasingly expect a warm reception for these tools, and the cultural superstructure on top of them, as a prerequisite for retention. What this means concretely will vary: Less tolerance for inbox overflow (just update your wall or tweet it if it’s brief), more security clashes with IT (why hold meetings, phone calls, e-mails if I can just host a document in the cloud and instantly collaborate with my team there?).”

“Sharing personal and private information will diminish as people begin to see the negative impact of it. However, sharing of useful (non-personal) information will still be present in forms of wikis and open source-type movements. The nature of information is to be free, most of important human information has been free since BC 5000.”

“Indeed, some highly popular aspects of our current Internet environment may turn out to be stages that people grow out of. The future is often more mundane than we predict.”

“Generational change is occurring faster now because a great many technologies are a part of life from birth and new ones happen faster. The high school experience is different now from what it was three years, not 30 years, ago. People will be more open with information than they have been in the past. It is not my style and I am not sure that we can have the aberrations that foster genius without a good dollop of privacy. This is one case where technologies of the past may have worked to social advantage. But, again, how does one institute what one thinks is best? Perhaps societies that manage this information better will come to dominate and teach by example.”

“They will continue to place minimal value on personal privacy. Whether or not this is a good thing will not be clear until it is too late for them to make any significant change (in their lifetimes).”

“The answer will evolve over time. We are already seeing some people close down Facebook profiles, but a whole new generation lies behind them – Gen Z that will not know a world without these technologies.”

“Most of the Y generation is not interested in using Web resources to share knowledge but to have their life more comfortable and simple. It will be clear in 2020.”

>> Click here to return to the 2010 Future of the Internet survey homepage
>> Click here to read non-anonymous respondents’ responses to this question
>> Click here to read the news release prepared to announce this report
>> Click here to read brief biographies of some of the survey participants