Mobile phones are widely used among minors. The number of minors using mobile phones is increasing, since they usually access their parents' digital devices (their security reference par excellence) from an early age.
Reasons for the success of digital media among minors:
- A need to be recognized.
- It is the most powerful platform to show their opinion to the world around them.
- Access is simple and prior knowledge is not required. (Two- and three-year-olds regularly access their parents' devices).
- The feeling of being accepted by the group is more powerful than any of the underlying risks (typical feature in teenagers throughout all evolutionary periods.)
- Value and feeling valued. A research study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience has shown that being valued equates to eating or having sexual intercourse in the reaction found in the nucleus accumbens, that part of the brain which is in charge of processing gratifying feelings produced by natural and social elements such as food, sex, money and social approval.
- Easy registration and access to websites, social networks, and apps for mobile phones.
- The importance given to digital media as an element of quality and development. Growing old means being on the net. The more the minor uses it, the bigger the number of networks and apps they are in, and, therefore, the greater the importance the minor has in their peer group. What in the past was known as a group or posse has now become the number of digital contacts. The greater the number of digital contacts, the less security and more difficulty for parents to know and control.
Types of apps and social networks
According to the University of California, in order for a website or app to be considered a social network, it needs to fulfill three conditions:
- To enable a person to create a profile
- To enable a person to establish connections with other users
- To enable a person to check who their friends are and who their friends' friends are
Nowadays almost every app or website used by minors meets all these conditions.
The sole aim of all social networking sites is to achieve the largest number of online users, and, for this reason, no privacy settings go against the interests of the company and they will never be a guarantee of absolute security for the user.
All the apps have the option of being synched to a social network, such as Google+, Facebook, etc, so, even if their initial goal is not to be a social network, they end up being so in minors' hands and accessible to any user.
As a general rule, anything on mobile devices lies within easy reach when transferring data (Internet connectivity). This applies not only to experts in malware, but also to minors following recommendations on websites or tutorials on social networks such as YouTube.
Definition of app:
A mobile application or app is a computer program designed to be executed on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. They are usually available on distribution platforms, operated by the owners of mobile operating systems such as Android, iOS, BlackBerry OS, Windows Phone, among others. There are free mobile apps and subscription apps. In the latter, 20-30% of the app cost goes to the distributor and the rest goes to the developer.
It is important to explain the term 'permission' in apps:
When we install apps, these allow:
- Access to our images, our most intimate space
- Our contacts: our closest and most beloved people
- Send messages and make calls, which can generate hidden expenses.
We must control our contacts and only add close people to our digital space.
Identity: the best protocol to protect intimacy.
Identity is the set of features or traits which allow you to distinguish one person or thing from others in a group. It is inherent in any human being, and physical appearance is a vital part of it. Therefore, it is a treasure which should not be shared with anyone. In the case of minors and teenagers it is still forming and that is why it is of paramount importance to protect it from exposure.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.