Sharing personal information online: Do young people overdo it?


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We talk a lot about the differences between digital natives and older generations, who came of age way before the internet. That’s because it really can’t be overemphasized: Growing up with access to so much knowledge and so many forms of communication has created very real generational differences — and they go way beyond knowing how to install a software update.

Avast recently uncovered one interesting generational difference via our Era of the Swindler survey, which was looking to uncover how common online scamming really is these days. One stat that jumped out was that, despite common beliefs about older people online, Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 were significantly more likely to share personal information with someone they only knew online than were people over the age of 55.

Here’s a breakdown of the numbers for the question “Which of the following would you be prepared to share with someone you have only met online? (e.g. a potential love interest, a new client or boss, a new friend etc.)”:


18 to 24

25 to 34

55 or more

Date of birth




Phone number




Social media handle




Place of work




Names of relatives




As you can see, younger people are much freer with their personal information online than those over the age of 55. This could be for a few different reasons. 

One: the tech. people under 40 had at least AOL as kids, while those under 25 have never lived in a world without personal cell phones. 18-year-olds were two when the first iPhone was released, so you could argue that they’ve never known a world without smartphones. 

Let’s compare that with someone who was born in 1950. They would have seen the meteoric rise of the television, with fewer than a million in American homes in 1949 and 44 million by 1969. The phone they learned to make calls on probably had a rotary dial and a spring cord, if they even had a phone at home. And calling someone outside of their hometown would have been prohibitively expensive.

As a result, it’s reasonable to assume that the 18 to 34-year-olds simply feel more comfortable online. They’re more accustomed to sharing personal information with strangers because they’ve been doing it since they were small. People over 55, on the other hand, came of age during a time when you didn’t communicate much outside your immediate circle, much less communicate personal information. 

However, interestingly, about the same percentage of people across all of the age groups surveyed said that they “limit sharing personal information online to mitigate the risks of scams.” The vast majority of respondents (between 85 and 95%) said that they “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” to the statement. 

And yet the responses to who shares what information online that we outlined above illustrates a disconnect between the actual actions people are taking and what they think they’re doing. Because the reality is that the personal information that young people are more likely to share online puts them at a higher risk of being scammed.

“The reality is that online scammers have zero scruples and are always seeking to exploit peoples’ emotions, circumstances or wider events in order to make money,” Avast Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Jaya Baloo says. “The fraudsters are increasingly getting more sophisticated, so we urge people to think twice before sharing personal information online or clicking on links which could be clever impersonations from fraudsters.”

So, digital natives, while you might have to show your mom how to use FaceTime every single time she wants to use it, this is one online lesson you can take from your elders: Share less online. It might be the very thing that keeps you from getting scammed.

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