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Over 37% youngsters have used friend-making apps: poll

2018/07/23 22:20:07

Taipei, July 23 (CNA) Many Taiwanese high school students are exposing themselves to safety and privacy risks through the use of social media apps, the Child Welfare League Foundation said Monday in presenting the results of a survey.

The foundation conducted the survey at 45 middle schools and high schools in December 2017 to gain insight into young people's use of friend-making apps, excluding Line, Facebook and Instagram.

It found that 37.7 percent of respondents have used friend-making apps and that about a third of those users spent an average of over 30 minutes per day on those apps.

Some 10.3 percent of the users said they did not conceal information about themselves when registering apps, including their age, the online social groups they belonged to, their Line account, and real name, the foundation said.

Friend-making app users were faced with inappropriate requests from their cyber friends, the foundation said, and most of these requests were to establish relationships and date.

Some were even asked by the other person to provide scantily-clad pictures of themselves or go to a hotel together.

Among these app users, 18.8 percent have gone on dates and 69.4 percent of their parents have no knowledge about their use of such apps, the survey found.

Huang Yun-hsuan (黃韻璇), the foundation's executive secretary, warned that the emergence of friend-making apps enables teenagers and young people to more easily get acquainted with strangers on the internet.

When the relationship between these young people and their families is poor, they could easily turn to internet friends for comfort and could be easily tempted by online friends to run away from home, Huang said.

According to runaway cases reported to the foundation over the past 10 years, 24 percent of these cases were internet-related, Huang said.

The apps also have security flaws, the foundation said.

Based on an analysis of the top 10 most downloaded apps and several other popular friend-making apps among teenagers, seven of the apps indicated that only people aged 18 and above could use the app, but six of them did not have an age-verification mechanism.

To ensure young people's safety, the foundation urged the government to improve the mechanism for monitoring the development and management of apps and raise their age requirements for users.

The foundation's survey received 1,889 valid samples and had a confidence level of 99 percent and a margin of error of plus or minus 2.25 percentage points.

(By Phoenix Hsu and Evelyn Kao)