89% of teenagers worry about online privacy and data

Teenagers are making more use of privacy settings on social media, an online survey suggests.

Almost nine out of 10 second-level students who responded to the poll on a study website indicated they have concerns about their online privacy.

Of 5,500 students who took part, 89% were worried or very worried about this issue and their personal data.

However, although two-thirds are concerned about spending too much time on their phones, the majority do not support a ban on smartphones in schools. The level of use during school time is reflected by the fact that 47% said they had checked their phone in class in the previous seven days.

The latest survey by Studyclix.ie, which ran over five days last week, shows 41% of students agree with policies banning phones in school. This compares to 60% support among teachers for a ban.

The recent controversies about personal information being harvested by apps used by people on Facebook may be behind high awareness and use of privacy settings on social media. Among users of Instagram, for example, 75% of survey participants have their accounts set to private mode.

However, one-third of those who are on Snapchat do not use a ‘ghost mode’ that hides their exact location. The app is used by 94% of students who took part in the survey, remaining their most popular social media outlet, followed by Instagram, used by 90%.

Studyclix.ie co-founder Luke Saunders said he was really surprised how many students were worried about their online privacy and safety, having found little concern from talking to students over the years.

“The Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal has raised awareness of data privacy among Irish teens. This can only be a good thing,” he said.

Mr Saunders was not surprised that the survey found two-thirds of students have experienced difficulty sleeping or getting back to sleep.

“As a teacher, I have observed that students, particularly young boys, are spending vast amounts of their free time playing highly addictive games often late into the night,” said Mr Saunders.

Of those surveyed, 84% said they look at their phone in bed before going to sleep.

Among the one in four students who play video games regularly, more than an hour a day is spent by the average student during the school week and three hours a day at weekends.

From being the most popular three years ago, when 88% in a similar survey used it, Facebook is used by less than three-quarters of current second-level students.

All but 5% said they have shared a photo of themselves on social media, and more than a third have posted a video in which they appear.

Nearly 1,800, or 41% of those surveyed, had shared their school name, 11% had posted their phone number, and 5% had shared their home address.


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