, Volume 78, Issue 4, pp 627–639 | Cite as

College students’ consumption, contribution, and risk awareness related to online mapping services and social media outlets: does geography and GIS knowledge matter?

  • Adam J. Mathews
  • Yongmei Lu
  • Matthew T. Patton
  • Nathaniel Dede-Bamfo
  • Junfang Chen


Location-enabled online tools and/or services (i.e. Google Earth/Maps, Flickr, Facebook check-ins, etc.) have been widely used for distributing and processing geospatial-related data. They attract diverse users to consume and contribute geographic information (GI) in many different forms. This study examines college students’ consumption and contribution of GI through these tools and/or services as well as their perception of risk and privacy. It evaluates the impact of Geographic information systems (GIS) and geography knowledge on the related behavior and perception. Through conducting a survey, it was found that college students’ consumption frequency of GI through the investigated tools and services is positively related to their knowledge in GIS and geography, but their GI contribution is not related. GIS knowledge was found to help raise students’ awareness level of risk. However, this relationship does not translate into students’ concern about potential privacy disclosure or their willingness to share personal location information through using location-enabled online tools and/or services. Discussions on the gap between students’ consumption and contribution of GI through the tools and/or services are shared in the paper as well as possible explanations on the disconnection between their risk awareness, privacy concern, and willingness to share personal information. Future research directions are discussed.


Geographic information Consumption/contribution of geographic information Geographic information systems Location-enabled online tools/services Risk awareness Social media 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adam J. Mathews
    • 1
  • Yongmei Lu
    • 1
  • Matthew T. Patton
    • 1
  • Nathaniel Dede-Bamfo
    • 1
  • Junfang Chen
    • 1
  1. 1.Texas State University - San MarcosSan MarcosUSA

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