Young children skip privacy controls on social media, GRA survey finds
Virtually all local students over the age of 11 use social media, but only four out of every 10 use appropriate privacy controls, according to a survey by the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority.
Older students were more active than their younger counterparts, but were also more aware of security and good practice online.
Most worryingly, the study found that Year 7 students aged between 10 and 11 were the least likely to use security features or lock their phones.
Nine out of 10 students in that age group said they used social media. Their network of choice was Snapchat, a photograph-sharing application which states it is not intended for children under the age of 13.
“This is a significant cause for concern, particularly given the young age of the Year 7 students and the accessibility of many social networking sites on the mobile devices,” the GRA said.
Paul Canessa, the Data Protection Commissioner and chief executive of the GRA, said the survey reaffirmed “…the need to continue promoting and emphasising the significance of the safe and responsible use of personal information in social networking sites.”
The study highlighted the risks to privacy arising from the unauthorised disclosure and interception of photographs, with 17% of students admitting that they always or regularly reveal information about others without consent.
The school survey was part of the GRA’s Control Your Privacy Campaign and was carried out with the co-operation of the Department of Education.
The survey included Year 7 students from all middle schools and the Loreto Convent. Also surveyed were Year 8 students from Prior Park School, Year 9 students from Bayside School and Year 11 students from Bayside School and Westside School.
The survey comprised of 818 students, consisting of 532 boys and 286 girls, with most being between the ages of 11 and 18, and a minority being over 18.
The survey covered all student age groups in Gibraltar and provides a solid snapshot of how youngsters use social media.
It found that virtually all the respondents use at least one social media network and that three quarters of them use it daily, in particular to message friends.
Three quarters of respondents also said they used networks specifically designed to exchange photographs and little else.