Why Understanding Demographics Will Help Create a United Digital Britain

 Author(s): , Posted on November 14th, 2011

Unisys announced the latest findings from its Security Index, a bi-annual research study that tracks consumer’s concerns about national, personal and online security. The latest report revealed startling differences when we came to analysing the demographics behind the responses and highlights the generation gap the digital world is forming.

For example, in the event of a data breach by an organisation holding an individual’s personal information, the willingness to continue with the organisation, but not online, drops with age, from 31% of 18-24 to 16% of seniors who are 65+. These seniors are also less likely to change their passwords (63%), while those in the 50+ category are more likely to say they would publicly expose the issue (62%) than any other age group. This enthusiasm for direct online action came as a surprise.

This action of publicly exposing the issue, perhaps through social media platforms, shows the willingness by not just the young to use the digital world as a democratic tool. This raises a wider question as to whether we are doing enough to create the right avenues for people to easily express their objections to online crime rather than create their own “campaigns” of outrage.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, those that have embraced social media from the start are less willing to see social networks closed down in the event of civil unrest. Over two thirds (72%) of those aged between 18 and 24 would be against the temporary closing down of social networks, with over half (60%) of seniors supporting the temporary closure of social networks. While the findings demonstrate people don’t want to see criminal activity on social networks, the results again demonstrate the need for awareness of appropriate avenues online to help police counter and resolve cybercrime.

All these points suggest that changes in attitude are needed if we are to close the gap created by the digital divide. Only with more effort placed on public awareness and education on how to counter cybercrime (particularly for the older generation) and a better understanding of the definition of what ‘normal’ online behaviour is for the younger generation, can we really take the steps to achieve David Cameron’s vision for an internet that is about freedom of access to all, not a medium for a free-for-all.

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