A new Australian study commissioned by Edith Cowen University’s Sellenger Centre for Research in Law, Justice and Social Change, reveals how teens really use the Internet. The research shows the amount of time teens are spending online, their concern for privacy and large social media use.
According to the study, titled “The Tech Use and Safety Project,” nearly a quarter of students surveyed spend four or more hours online, on non-school-related activities. A whopping 85% said they actively use social media websites, 75% of whom use websites like Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis.
Opposite to popular belief, teens are in fact concerned about their online privacy, the issue is that they don’t actually take steps to help protect said privacy.
85% said their online privacy is a concern. 71% have set their online profiles to private. However, 41% have admitted to sharing personal information online, while another 24% said they had shared their social media passwords.
“Although many students indicated that privacy was important to them, the high percentage who shared their password shows that we still have much work to do in this area,” said Sellenger Centre’s Associate Director, Dr. Julian Dooley. “Technology is advancing rapidly and children are often more advanced than their parents in accessing and using technology. It is therefore imperative that we use these results to develop dynamic safety strategies that reflect the technological environment.”
When it comes to unsolicited contact, 43% admitted that they had met a person in real life after first meeting them online. However, 60% also said they made sure to tell a friend or parent before the meeting.
It is clear that social media use is ever-increasing with a large majority of teens having active profiles. 66% said they have more than 200 friends on their social media profiles, while 46% said they had more than 300. 73% said they have shared pictures using social media websites.
The teens who did spend more time on websites such as Facebook were also more likely to become victims of cyberbullying and to have symptoms of depression and anxiety.
“We need to guide the younger generation and the choices they make,” Dooley said. “Importantly, any safety approach must be a combination of evidence-based behavioural strategies supported by cutting edge technological solutions.”
The Tech Use and Safety Project collected their data by surveying 753 high schools students, aged 13 to 15, in West Australia.
Image source: Time