Young people are twice as likely as the average internet user to choose internet speed ahead of online security, new research has found.
Results of a survey on internet habits, released today to coincide with the start of the Federal Government's Stay Smart Online week, reveal that 49 per cent of internet users between 18 and 25 consider the speed of their connection more important than their level of privacy, compared with 24 per cent of average internet users.
Jeremy Blackman, cyber safety adviser for the Alannah and Madeline Foundation, said this lack of security awareness meant young users were creating digital footprints that were impossible to erase.
"Teenagers are using so-called private messaging apps like Snapchat and Instagram that have video and image capability," he said. "They can send an image thinking it will disappear in five seconds and be gone for ever, but it's just been found in the US.
"The data isn't necessarily disappearing."
Mr Blackman said young people found it difficult to distinguish between their online social lives and offline.
He said schools and parents had to focus on teaching teenagers to make good digital choices.
"From Facebook to messaging apps like Snapchat and Instagram, across to professional platforms like LinkedIn, it's about choosing each of those platforms knowing what it does," Mr Blackman said.
"And not being naive about where your data might end up and making choices about when you share personal information."
The report also found 73 per cent of young internet users connected their smartphones and tablets to public wi-fi, but 63 per cent did not check for computer viruses after using public wi-fi.
Less than one-third of mobile users said they always read "permission requests" before downloading an app.
And Australian internet users said they were more concerned about deleting their browsing history (74 per cent) than changing their passwords every six months (49 per cent).