Majority more conscious of privacy online in last year, survey finds

Two-thirds of parents check children’s online behaviour, ComReg research reveals

Nearly two-thirds of parents have rules about how long or when their children are allowed to go online. Photograph: iStock

Nearly two-thirds of parents have rules about how long or when their children are allowed to go online. Photograph: iStock

 

Security of personal data and fake news are the most commonly identified challenges of online services, according to a new survey.

Two-thirds of participants reported becoming more conscious of their privacy online over the last year. The majority have taken actions to help keep themselves safe online, such as increasing privacy settings (72 per cent) or blocking someone (71 per cent) but deleting comments or reporting someone to a social media company are less common.

ComReg, the Commission for Communications Regulation, has published the results of its Digital Services & Online Safety survey, conducted by Red C Research and involving 2,000 adults, to coincide with Safer Internet Day on Tuesday.

The survey finds usage of a range of online services is very high, with search and communication services being used most often. More than 80 per cent use messaging apps on a daily basis, while more than 75 per cent use social media daily.

Ease of access to information (78 per cent) was the most commonly reported benefit of online services while security of personal data (67 per cent) and fake news (66 per cent) were the most commonly reported challenges, along with privacy of personal data (63 per cent) and harmful content (57 per cent).

Nearly two-thirds of parents have rules about how long or when their children are allowed to go online.

More advanced digital controls such as software that limits the people children can be in contact with or services to limit the time children spend online are used less frequently by parents.

The majority of parents check a child’s online behaviour at least sometimes, such as the apps they have downloaded (69 per cent) or the online content they view (69 per cent).

Robert Mourik, ComReg commissioner, said over the last year “we have all been relying more on our home broadband service and various online services”.

“This reliance will only grow over the coming years. It is reassuring to see that the majority of parents are aware of online harms and are taking steps to protect their children online,” Mr Mourik said.