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Vast Majority of Smartphone Users Care About Privacy

Nearly nine in 10 younger adults want to keep info private

As more of consumers’ lives depend on mobile devices, the chances they have something on their phones they want private has become very high. According to research, about four in five US smartphone users have private files on their devices—and the share is even higher among the youngest adults.

Overall, 81.3% of male smartphone users and 80.3% of females told KS Mobile and Harris Interactive they had reasons for keeping smartphone files private, indicating little split by gender on the general question. When it came to specific reasons why, men and women gave similar responses, with a few notable exceptions. Women were significantly less likely than men to have a security code to keep their phones private, and were also less likely than men to say they shared their phone with a significant other, friends or a family member.

Women were also notably less likely to say they had racy photos on their phones they wanted to keep close tabs on.

Demographic differences showed up much more starkly when respondents were broken out by age, however. Among smartphone users under 30, nearly 88% said they had some reason to keep files private—a figure that dropped nearly 16 percentage points among respondents in their 50s, though the oldest users were somewhat more likely to say they wanted smartphone privacy.

Younger users were also more likely than their elders to be proactive about keeping security codes on their phones, and also tended to indicate sharing behaviors among friends—and the presence of private photos.

The likelihood of younger smartphone users to share their phone with friends may also be what makes them most attune to privacy issues. The same group said friends were among the people they most wanted to keep smartphone files private from, while older adults tended to be more worried about co-workers or their own children finding private files.

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