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Teens would sell their personal data instead of working

Teens are aware of what their personal data is worth: about as much as a large pizza, according to a new study.

Teens are well aware of the value of their personal data.

In fact, it’s about as valuable as a large pizza.

For the not-so-princely sum of £15 (call it $20), 42% of survey respondents said they’d rather give away their personal data than work at a job to earn the cash, according to a new study.

IT services company Logicalis UK commissioned the survey from Realtime Generation.

Realtime Generation surveyed some 1,000 13-17 year-olds over the course of 10 days in January, and the results are now out in a report titled “The age of digital enlightenment” (PDF).

From a press release about the report:

As consumers, teens clearly understand the commercial value of their personal data, and are willing to share information provided it results in a better service or deal.

The survey posed specific scenarios to teens to find out what type of “better service” or “deal” they’d swap their e-selves for.

This is what the kids said they’re “mostly happy” to exchange personal data for:

  • Sharing location data with university to help use facilities or campus better, improve personal safety (39%).
  • Health data being monitored and shared with medical staff to better diagnose (37%).
  • Biometric data passwords (42%).

On the other hand, this sort of data sharing made them “mostly unhappy”:

  • Organizations sharing data with third parties (60%).
  • Movement tracked in-store via personal device for marketing purposes (41%).
  • Online habits used to provide targeted ads and promotions (50%).
  • Location data used or shared (54%).

Unlocking the keys to a teen’s data-sharing heart is pure gold to marketers, of course.

The currently ripening generation has never known a world that wasn’t digital. They spend more than nine hours a day online on average, be it at a PC or on a mobile phone – and 93% of them own a smartphone.

In fact, the average “Realtimer” (yes, that’s what the survey people are calling teens) owns 4.9 digital devices.

They’re increasingly comfortable creating as well as consuming. If there isn’t an app for what they’re after, many of them will make it, the report said: 18% of those surveyed claimed they had the skills to build their own.

These are the activities they spend time on during those hours online, on average:

  • Other: 17 minutes a day.
  • Blogging: 9 minutes a day.
  • Coding: 10 minutes a day.
  • Taking selfies: 15 minutes a day.
  • Email: 21 minutes a day.
  • Video calls: 24 minutes a day.
  • Research/search: 54 minutes a day.
  • Instant messaging: 55 minutes a day.
  • Gaming: 1 hour 12 minutes a day.
  • Streaming content: 1 hour 32 minutes a day.
  • Making videos: 1 hour 40 minutes a day.
  • Social media: 1 hour 40 minutes a day.
  • (Total: 9 hours 29 minutes.)

The report said that Realtimers’ digital lifestyles are enough to make marketers slobber. Whether they realize it or not, with all their online activity, they’re laying the digital bricks to build a lasting digital profile.

Some of the reasons why:

  • 73% follow brands they like.
  • 62% click on ads within social media.
  • 57% make in-app or in-game purchases.
  • 75% shop online or engage with a brand online, often to seek a better deal, as part of their shopping ritual.

The report wondered why any business wouldn’t be at the data trough, lapping this all up:

They may not consider the impact of the data they are sharing, but the ease with which this generation engages digitally with brands (unknowingly?) is generating a lasting profile.

This data is enabling organizations to better develop and market products and services. If you are not online, social, and incentivizing in return for their loyalty, you will struggle to maintain brand awareness and future market share.

Interestingly enough, teens spend the most time in online venues they trust the least: social media services.

The trust lineup, in decreasing order:

  • 44% of teens trust the UK government with personal data, in return for a better service, in spite of (or maybe because of?) the fact that they’re the ones who are least likely to ever interact with the government.
  • 38% trust brands.
  • 37% trust service providers.
  • 25% trust social media

From the report:

Realtimers spend on average 100 minutes per day on social media, it is the digital activity they claim to spend most time doing – and probably where they share the most data.

Their behavior, from sharing photos and liking brands, to publishing their opinions, is helping marketers create detailed digital profiles of this generation, however social platforms remain the least trusted of organizations by Realtimers.

The report writers noted that in each of the scenarios when they asked Realtimers to state if they’d be happy or unhappy to share their data, about one third weren’t sure.

That leaves plenty of opportunity for marketers to convince teens that they’re getting, say, the equivalent of a Domino’s MeatZZa Feast® in exchange for their digital souls.

But seriously, it also means that there’s room for teens to be convinced of the implications of sharing personal data.

They might be the most digitally empowered generation ever, but that doesn’t mean they’re digitally literate enough to sift the online wheat from the chaff, if we can use such a polite term to describe some of the gunk that’s findable online.

As it is, another recent study found that 1 in 5 kids believe that search engine results are always true.

Learning how to cast a hairy eyeball at what the internet coughs up is just one of a host of tips we’ve put together in various lists regarding how to keep kids safe online.

Those tips aren’t just for kids, of course: they’re good for all of us, regardless of age.

Readers, have you talked to your kids about sharing their personal data? How did that go?

Please share whatever insights you’ve managed to glean.

Image of Personal data brokering courtesy of


The salient point, I think, is that (many, not all) teens, and millenials, and whoever, would rather do ANYTHING other than work. The “entitlement mentality” is strong and, sad as it is to say, I think it’s so ingrained that there may be no going back until a strong leader says, “Enough! All this welfare stops on (pick a date but please make it soon)! Get off your duffs and go do something productive, even if it’s cutting grass for someone who’s no longer able to take care of that stuff.”

I place a value of Zero on anyone else’s personal data but mine is worth so much that no one would want to buy it. And I dang well do not go posting it on every Rest Area wall!


two phrases spring to mind…

“stupid is as stupid does”

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – ben franklin


I think they know what they are doing and not let be used and be a product.
Most of the time they know what they are selling, and for some things they not care, some things they find usefull ( like health data), but they don’t give it for free.
And I don’t blame them.
If marketar want’s to pay, why not take that money?
On the end, they will do what and how they want.
I think that behavior of adults is worser, they sell own passwords, without problems, so …


“As it is, another recent study found that 1 in 5 kids believe that search engine results are always true.”

I believe the Generation Y (millenials, etc) is the generation that wants to just learn lessons the harder way. They’ll claim they love all the tools, but don’t want to use them effectively or at all.


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