Privacy and security rank as college students’ #1 concern about online activity, according to new poll

Posted by Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Education (@anthonysalcito)

(Updated 9:55 a.m. PT)

One of the best parts of the typical “college experience” is the newfound freedom and independence. As students take advantage of this independence to form new relationships and communicate with people in new ways, it’s important that they are given the tools to help protect their privacy.

To get a better understanding of what privacy means to college students and what’s important to them when interacting online, Microsoft recently commissioned a survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive. The survey found the top two qualities students look for in an online account are privacy and security. Additionally, the survey revealed:

• Students engage in the following activities at least once a day: use their personal email (87%), use a school-provided email (64%), use social networking sites (85%). (Among those with respective accounts.)

• Over two-thirds (69%) of college students are unaware their online activity may be viewed by their school.

• Four in five (84%) students don’t believe their school should be able to view their other online activities outside their school-provided e-mail, such as social networking.

• The vast majority of students (90%) think it would be a violation of their privacy if their school asks for the password to their social networking accounts.

• Most students (93%) don’t think their colleges should have access to their social networking usernames and passwords, and the majority (59%) would support a law banning schools from viewing social networking activities via school-provided e-mail services.

Microsoft knows privacy and security are important to our customers, and this survey suggests it is also a priority for students. By publishing this data, we hope to increase awareness of students’ concerns about their privacy and security, and ensure our offerings continue to meet the needs of students by providing balanced options that allow all of our customers, including students, to remain in control of their personal data.

About the Survey
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Microsoft from May 31-June 6, 2012 among 18-23 year-olds currently enrolled in a 2-or 4-year college or graduate school. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Comments (3)

  1. Esme Lucas, Europe. says:

    Rarely in these types or articles or studies is it made explicit where the research was carried out i.e which country. One is left to assume the studies are U.S. based. Please do like Pew and make it clear, so that folks can accurately apply the data from these worth while reports. Thanks.

  2. Zee says:

    comScore, the parent company of RelevantKnowledge, has invested substantial resources in making our data collection and privacy practices the best they can possibly be. Recently, comScore's ScorecardResearch service earned the highest possible rating of 50 out of 50 for its <a href="…/privacychoice_awards_comscores_scorecardresearch.html ">online privacy practices by PrivacyChoice</a>, a leader in privacy technology innovation.  ScorecardResearch is a service offered by comScore, which also operates the RelevantKnowledge market research panel.  If you have further questions about RelevantKnowledge, please visit our website:

    Thank you,

    RelevantKnowledge Customer Support Team

  3. macck says:

    Registration denied, this forum runs an active policy of not allowing spammers. Please contact us via the "Contact Us" page link if you believe this is in error

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