The purpose of the research study was to determine students’ attitudes, awareness, and perceptions of personal privacy and cybersecurity of social media sites. Within the context of this study, social media is defined as forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas or personal messages. Privacy is defined as “freedom from unauthorized intrusion” and the ability to control one’s personal information so that only those the owner wishes to view their information are allowed. This includes both control over what information is viewable in social media as well as who can view it. According to Heiten (2016) digital literacy is defined as having three categories that include “1) finding and consuming digital content; 2) creating digital content; and 3) communicating or sharing it” (p.5-6). The authors believe that a fourth category that should be included in the definition of digital literacy is creating awareness of privacy/security risks and countermeasures. To that extent, a paper-based survey was administered to students enrolled in summer classes at a campus of a major university in western Pennsylvania. A paper-based survey was chosen in lieu of administering the survey online to increase the sample size. The three primary research objectives of the study are:
1. To assess student perception regarding social media privacy.
2. To assess whether security matters to college students.
3. To evaluate whether universities should be providing better education regarding cyber-security.