People are increasingly using their smartphones and tablets to monitor their personal information, with an increasing number of them choosing to use privacy settings on websites, apps and social media, according to a new study.
The research, conducted by US company Quantcast, found that 71% of Americans now have a smartphone, up from 62% in 2014.
However, there’s a problem.
Many people are unaware of the privacy settings they can set on the web, apps or mobile websites.
“When we asked users what settings they were most likely to use, almost half (48%) said they use the privacy setting of the apps they are using, up 6% from 2014,” the study said.
“More than half (56%) of people (56% of people with smartphones) said they would use the settings on the apps that they are running, up 7% from 2016.”
The survey also found that while 77% of respondents had at least one type of social media app, only 39% had privacy settings.
In contrast, 73% of adults who said they were not connected to the internet had privacy options set up.
“Our research shows that people are starting to understand the privacy options available on their phones, tablets and laptops, and they are choosing to be their own,” said Quantcast VP of digital innovation and products, Dan O’Connor.
“The more people understand the choices that they have available to them, the more comfortable they are in making the privacy choices that will protect their privacy.”
Privacy options on the internet are increasingly popular as the web has become more popular, as well as in the digital space.
However it’s clear that people’s digital privacy is not always protected.
“While the majority of people are happy to make the privacy decisions on their devices, only about half of those surveyed have any kind of privacy settings enabled,” the Quantcast study said.
“This means that while people are choosing which apps they want to use when they are online, they are not making the choices for themselves.”
Quantcast surveyed more than 2,200 people across America to discover which privacy settings people chose on their smartphones, tablets, laptops and online services.
It found that 52% of smartphone users had privacy features enabled, while only 38% of tablet users and only 20% of laptop users had the same.
“There’s a disconnect between the privacy protections that people see on their device and what they are actually getting in return,” said O’ Connor.
“We’re seeing the same problems with apps and services where people are forced to choose between the protections of their device or what they’re getting in exchange.”
Quantcaster’s report also found a growing trend in the use of apps that give access to your location.
“A lot of people do have apps that allow them to share their location, but that’s a very small portion of people’s use of the internet,” O’ Fenlon said.
While it’s not the first time people have reported the issue, the Quantcasts findings are notable because they are the first to report on how many people are opting to opt out of apps, sites and services that track their location.
Quantcast said that when people are using apps or services that collect their location information, they can’t opt out.
“If you’re a Facebook user and you’re browsing your friends’ profiles or sharing photos, that can be seen as a way for Facebook to track you.
We think this is something that’s really going to have an impact on how we protect our privacy,” O Fenlon added.
O’Connor said that the survey shows that while most people are concerned about their privacy, they’re also becoming more educated about the privacy tools available.
“This is going to be a huge opportunity for the mobile and web companies and the people that have privacy settings, to continue to educate people about the best privacy practices and what their privacy is,” he said.