A survey of smartphone users has revealed a highly lax attitude to monitoring of personal behaviour by third party companies - even in the bedroom. The study of 300 people found that well over half (54%) are happy with smartphone app makers trying to work out what they are up to in the bedroom, despite 52% of those surveyed saying their smartphone has either acted strangely or had a virus at some point.
The findings of the survey, by UK based internet safety and privacy specialists B9 Systems, found that smartphone users are savvy, but have a relaxed attitude towards how much their personal behaviour and information is monitored by the private companies who make the apps we all use every day.
68% of respondents said they know how to check all permissions used by any specific app on their phone and how to turn those permissions off. Meanwhile, 75% believe apps on smartphones are listening to users and then using that information to let companies advertise to them. But when asked ‘Would you be happy to allow apps on your smartphone to listen to you and then use that information to let companies advertise to you?’ only 50% said yes.
When asked if they knew WhatsApp is owned by Facebook 67% answered yes, yet a considerable 45% of those surveyed said they do not trust Facebook with their private data.
Quizzed about which smartphone functionalities they are comfortable with apps having access to a huge 92% said they are fine with apps looking at their calendar, 81% said camera access is fine and 80% are ok with apps knowing their location. About giving root privileges to private companies, a feature which allows app makers to override all permissions granted by the user, a massive 51% still said they are happy with allowing that.
For motion sensors it was 75% who said that is fine, the same figure for third parties knowing who all their contacts are. 74% are comfortable with their phone calls being accessible to private companies and 72% are OK with body sensors on their phone being accessed by companies. Use of speech recognition by third party app makers is acceptable to 74% of smartphone users.
About the amount of apps they have installed on their phones 47% said it was 20 or more, whereas 70% of people say they only actually use 10-15 apps. 68% said they use voice activated commands, apps or searches on their smartphones.
Stuart Spice, founder of B9 Systems, who commissioned the study, commented, “It’s pretty amazing that half of smartphone users say their phone has behaved strangely or had a virus and yet so many are totally relaxed about their devices monitoring their behaviour, even in their bedrooms! It’s important to know which companies have access to your personal information and what information they are gathering about you. A lot of our data is sent off to companies based in countries where it would be virtually impossible to legally recall that information. The line has to be drawn somewhere.”
“Whilst there is great convenience to having supercomputers with amazing features in our pockets, we do need to start redrawing the boundaries a bit. Parents of children who have their own smartphones also need to be aware of how much information third parties, some of them criminal or nefarious, can gather through the devices we all now use so much.”
“Our survey shows that we will allow private companies significant entry into our personal lives, yet many of us clearly do not trust those companies with our data, which is unsurprising considering the amount of data breaches we are constantly hearing about. With the tools B9 Systems provides to internet and smartphone users we help people to take back the control over their digital health and security.”
A survey of parents on the online activity of their children has found that 65% of mums and dads allow their kids under 10 to use the internet unsupervised. Meanwhile, parents said their biggest concern about their children’s connected lives is too much time spent online, with 40% of parents saying their kids connect to the internet before saying good morning each day.
Tellingly, a considerable number of parents - 76% - would like to know more about what their children do online. A vast majority of parents (90%) say they do monitor what their youngsters get up to online, with the most popular methods of doing this being a check on their kids’ internet browser (30%) and specifically looking at their search history (21%). Only 21% of parents ask their children what they have been doing online, 12% choose to physically observe what their offspring are up to and 5% go as far as reading their children’s private messages.
When they were asked ‘At what age did your children first start using the internet on their own?’ a notable 26% said it was a young as just five, or less. For 39% of parents it was 6-9 years-old and for a more conservative 35% it was aged 10 or older.
Regarding their biggest worries about their children’s connected lives by far the main concern is too much time spent online (31%), followed by viewing adult content (20%), being upset by content (10%), grooming (9%), bullying (8%) and use of their kids’ data by big companies (6%).
The survey of 300 parents around the world was conducted by UK based internet safety and privacy specialists B9 Systems.
B9 also quizzed parents as to how they protect their children online, with the most popular answer being simply talking with their children (27%) about the potential downsides of the online world. A close second was limiting kids’ to specific time online (26%), whilst just 13% of parents said the main control for their kids’ internet safety is through software. Only 9% of parents rely on a family agreement as the main form of control.
Regarding the time their children spend online each day for 32% of parents the answer was less than an hour, whilst 42% said it’s up to three. However 23% of mums and dads said their kids spend between three and six hours using connected devices every day and at the extreme end of the scale 2% of parents say their children spend an average of seven to 10 hours online on a daily basis. 55% of parents say their kids do spend too much time online.
Asked what they believe their children do online the big answers were gaming (42%), watching videos (34%), chatting (11%) and studying (10%).
Stuart Spice, founder of B9 Systems who undertook the study, said, “Many of our findings confirmed what we already suspected, that parents are really concerned about their children spending too much time online and that they would like to know more about what their youngsters are up to. We were surprised though to see how young kids are using the web unsupervised.”
“Checking on their kids’ internet browser and looking at their search history will only tell parents so much. Most savvy children probably know how to hide their activity by adjusting browser settings and clearing search history. Our FamilyHub allows parents to really see how much time their kids are online per device, how much time they are on specific sites and apps and to block connections they deem to be dangerous or concerning.”