Privacy in the digital age has grown from an
afterthought to a hot topic in recent years due to the countless cyberattacks
and leaks of consumer data that fill the news cycle. It is a complicated issue
with many valid opinions on all sides; however, Gen Z has a unique viewpoint. Commonly
defined as those born between 1996 and today, Gen Z has never known a world without
cell phones that track their location and utilize Google’s free services in
exchange for advertising data. We (I am one of them) have grown up exclusively
in a post-privacy world and are aware that it is only just beginning.
CLICK TO TWEET: David Sowry believes that Gen Z will become more willing to trade privacy for convenience and a tailor-made experience to improve their lives as much as possible.
Despite a unique understanding of the situation, Gen Z seems
willing to give up even more privacy, posting more online than previous
generations and having a digital presence more heavily integrated into our
lives. This decision is not because we don’t worry about or value privacy; it
is because we know we don’t have a choice. Our entire lives have revolved
around Internet access and devices that required us to trade privacy for
convenience. From a young age, we did what our peers and role models did – live
our lives digitally. Now that the first of Gen Z are transitioning to adulthood,
we are aware there is no going back -- no way to take back all the data that is
out there on us.
The worry about privacy is far less concerning if everyone
else’s life is public. According to new research by CommScope, two-thirds
of Gen Z agreed that the age of personal privacy is over. Nearly every college
graduate in 10 years will have hours of (potentially embarrassing) content of
themselves online from their childhood, but it matters substantially less if
every other college graduate has similar videos. Perhaps more importantly, the
same two-thirds of respondents agreed that nothing you do online is private.
While we may be willing to give up our privacy, we are aware of exactly what
that entails, so we are less likely to be caught off guard when something
supposedly “private” is seen by everyone.
Gen Z views giving up privacy as a trade-off, and while the
benefits may seem minor now, the conveniences of the future are nearly
impossible to imagine. New services will be offered to consumers, services
specifically tailored to their needs and desires. For example, Gen Z might like
the ability to use artificial intelligence to automate the parts of life that are
the most boring. Or you can have groceries delivered without ordering because
your fridge knew you were out of milk. Flowers can be delivered to your
significant other on an anniversary because of a note in your calendar. An Uber
arrives, even if you forgot to order one, because a dinner was on your schedule.
However, there may still be some hesitancy to gathering data
and sharing information. For example, smartwatches aimed at kids were recently banned by a German regulator.
Although this might not be a global trend to protect privacy, it does indicate
that it is still important to many.
I believe that Gen Z will become more willing to trade
privacy for convenience and a tailor-made experience to improve their lives as
much as possible. The opportunities of what will come next are endless.