What a 12yr old thinks about Privacy Rights

In the last 2 months, I have been talking to quite a few people about the way technology has evolved and where we are headed with all of this. I find that there are two camps here – one that believes form-factors won’t get smaller than they already are and another that believes technology will be ubiquitous and device independent.

In all these discussions, conversation has always veered towards how privacy rights will be advocated in the future. Frankly, I don’t give a damn about privacy, but turns out many people do.

I heard a very insightful comment from my 12 yr. old cousin the other day. His generation has grown up with Orkut and now Facebook and I have known him to play with computer user interfaces and get the hang of things in 2-3 attempts – in contrast to my parents who still struggle with common website UI.

Turns out he was gifted a mobile phone recently (looks like 12yr olds these days are really lucky!) and for him this was like taking a step backward in technology. He called me within an hour of owning the phone and told me that he had stored my number in his contacts and I couldn’t do anything about it – I realised that he was referring to the social networking philosophy of managing contacts where everything has to be approved and can be given various information access levels, aka privacy rights.

It’s amazing how today’s generation of pre-teens are growing up with the notion of privacy in-built into their systems without even thinking twice about it. They expect to be able to block access to information and assign individual access rights.

Here are some more things I have come to know since:

  • He was appalled by the fact that he couldn’t put a password to his SMS inbox.
  • He thinks calling at 50p ~min is expensive – I don’t think he knows these are one of the cheapest cellular tariffs he’ll pay in the world.
  • Surprisingly, he doesn’t SMS, says it’s too costly and will rather call friends and ask them to call other friends.
  • He uses the phone mainly as a camera – he will take snaps of anything dead or alive. Consequently, his Facebook gallery has become more grainy and yet ‘richer’. That said, since I get to see loads of trees and pebbles and other such arty snaps, I suspect am on a limited access list on his Facebook profile and he has more snaps with friends hidden away.
  • Does not have Internet on his phone.

I am just truly fascinated by today’s kids and their thoughts on technology. I remember a comment my mom made to me a few years ago when I was playing on the computer – “When I was your age, I thought the adults in my house were all stupid. They didn’t know how to operate the telephone either. Now when I look at you on the computer, I feel life has come full circle“.

I wonder what my kids will do. Scoff at the explanation that we had to pick a device and place it to our ear to make a call – maybe? Whatever the case may be, privacy rights will become the trump card for services that become more and more integrated with each other.

One comment

  1. lovely post.

    The kid is right . 50 p is too costly . The future gen will take the prices down to free with new technology.
    Adding a password to the inbox is a good feature to have (hope nokia ,apple is listening)
    He will use sms when it is free and uses voice recognition 😉

    Also kids financial ethics come from those he respects and trust . ..

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