Student Culture, Trends & Issues

29% of Young Adults Regret This…

I ran across an article over on yesterday talking about some of the online practices of young adults — especially as they relate to future job prospects.

In a poll of 1,000 young adults (between the ages of 18 and 34) conducted by, findings showed that 29% of respondents reported regretting something they had posted.

My first thought was, that number seems low.

As I read further I saw that 74% of those polled said they had removed content they thought might draw negative reactions from current or future employers.

That number seemed more accurate.

But as I read through the rest of the article, and sat with those two numbers, I was drawn to consider what wasn’t being said about the 45% of respondents (450 young adults) that had removed content — yet did not regret posting it.

This, for me, raises a few questions:

  1. How much do our students think before they post?
  2. Are our young people posting for a narrow audience — in the moment — without any consideration for other audiences and/or future times?
  3. To what degree should the online world (and who we portray ourselves to be) impact the real world? And should students think it OK to portray themselves as someone different in each of those places (and therefore share different things)?
  4. What is our role in helping students to live (and post) thoughtfully in our digital age?


Truth be told, this is one of the biggest reasons I was late in joining the online world. I really dragged my feet when it came to joining things like Facebook and Twitter.

Why? Because my first exposure to it was learning how a couple dozen would-be student leaders ended up not only being denied a position, but ultimately having to go before the school’s judicial board for pictures posted on their Facebook wall detailing their involvement in inappropriate (and illegal) behavior on campus. The school official stumbled upon them as they were using Facebook to simply put a face with the name on their application.

I thought to myself, if this is where students go to reveal all and share every raw detail of their lives — then I’d rather be in the dark.

A few years later, realizing that this social media things was not going away anytime soon — and that students seemed to be spending increasing amounts of time and energies in these digital places, I decided to slowly ease into the online waters.

And then eventually slipped way into the deep end. 🙂

But back to the point at hand, how can we best help our students to see the need for self-control and personal responsibility in (digital) places where they think they are free to act as they please?

I’d love to know what you think about this.

And if any students (or non-students within the 18-34 demographic) happen upon this article — what do you think about all of this?


  • DefinitelyJon

    This is important. Much of the younger online audience is quite unrestricted when it comes to sharing online and creating that social presence… I think it’s because as this age rolled upon us many parents were slow/reluctant to dip into the water for both the reasons you mentioned and the fact that it was something new they had to invest time into.

    Because some parents have been slow to learn the dynamic and understand the online social media world, they do not have ‘appropriate’ principles to guide their children (or students).

    I was born in 1991. I grew up with all these big changes to the internet that people were just starting to adapt to. And when it came to social media they were a little slow to get involved, however, they gave me some guiding principles when it came to using it. I wasn’t to say/do anything online that I wouldn’t offline and I wasn’t allowed to share specific information about the city I lived in and who I was, for safety.

    Now I’m older, and I am a little more free with the information I share. I keep in mind the impact of what I post online and the reputation i want to garner. I try to be the same person online that I am in person. And in a way by tying together some of my online accounts it gives me that accountability.