Here is more evidence that young adults have difficulty distinguishing between valid web sites and bogus ones: A survey commissioned by the citizens watchdog group Digital Citizens Alliance showed that 18- to 24-year-olds are much more likely to get stiffed when buying merchandise online, usually because they’re less able to spot a shady web seller.
The survey was conducted Nov. 14 by Zogby Analytics and specifically asked respondents about online shopping for gifts. The results, though, showed that a whopping 35% of the youngest adult group had not received at least one online gift order (compared to just 18% for all age groups). Of those, almost 60% also didn’t get a refund for the no-show order.
Why young adults are more apt to be victimized becomes clearer when you look at their shopping habits. More than 80% of all shoppers make sure they’re ordering from secure web sites, but only 60% of young adults bother to do so. More young adults are drawn to shop at sites offering super-cheap prices—which too often are sites run by scammers. While older shoppers balk at great deals that seem too good to be true or when the seller is unknown, younger adults haven’t yet developed that sort of radar.
This survey correlates to other studies on how college students conduct online research for schoolwork and papers. Students, especially those in their first year, are less able to discern whether online information sources are knowledgeable and trustworthy.
Younger adults may spend a lot of time online, both studying and shopping, but they apparently need instruction in separating the bad sites from the good.