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Ahead of Safer Internet Day 2021, ComReg survey highlights the awareness of digital privacy, online harms, and online safety

ComReg has published the results of its Digital Services & Online Safety survey, conducted by Red C Research. ComReg has issued this survey to coincide with Safer Internet Day which falls tomorrow, February 9.

This survey of 2,000 Irish adults and parents highlights the benefits of online services, their awareness and perceptions of online harms and the approaches to protecting themselves and children online.

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% use messaging apps on a daily basis, while more than 75% use social media daily.

Survey participants recognise that there are both benefits and challenges associated with the use of online services. Ease of access to information (78%) was the most commonly reported benefit of online services while security of personal data (67%) and fake news (66%) were the most commonly reported challenges.

Two thirds (67%) of survey participants report 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%) or blocking someone (71%) but deleting comments or reporting someone to a social media company are less common.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) 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%) or the online content they view (69%).

ComReg Commissioner Robert Mourik said: “To mark Safer Internet Day 2021 on February 9th, our survey of Irish adults and parents reveals the many benefits and challenges we face when using online services. 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.”

Key findings:

  • Search & Communication are the most frequently used purposes for using online services. More than 90% use a search engine on a daily basis, while more than 80% use messaging apps or email daily. 83% of respondents use online banking at least once a week.
  • At least two-thirds identify ease of access to information (78%), supporting transactions (69%) and always being connected to friends and family (67%) (e.g. video calling) as benefits of online services.
  • Security of personal data (67%), Fake news (66%), Privacy of personal data (63%) and Harmful content (e.g. bullying online) (57%) are the most commonly identified challenges of online services. 67% have become more conscious of their privacy online in the last year.
  • 71% have blocked someone at least once in the past year and 72% have increased their privacy settings.
  • 64% of parents have rules in relation to how long their child can spend online. A considerably smaller percentage of parents are using more advanced digital controls such as GPS tracking or software that limits who a child can contact.

About Safer Internet Day

In Ireland, Safer Internet Day is coordinated by Webwise, the Irish Internet Safety Awareness Centre. Webwise a key educational resource offering free online safety education resources, information, training and advice for schools, parents and young people. Parents can access free advice and resources via the Webwise.ie Parents Hub.

Find the full publication here.

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