Awareness, Knowledge, and Ability of Mobile Security Among Young Mobile Phone Users

Awareness, Knowledge, and Ability of Mobile Security Among Young Mobile Phone Users

River Yan (Noble and Greenough School, Dedham, MA, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/IJCBPL.2017070106
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The research literature on awareness, knowledge, and ability of mobile security of young mobile phone users was reviewed in this article. The existing literature suggests that young mobile phone users are usually not aware of potential mobile security issues when using a mobile phone. Young mobile phone users are often found to lack the knowledge to detect mobile security problems and to defend themselves in the mobile world. Empirical evidence also exists in which some users do not have the mobile security ability to safely use their mobile phones. Overall, it is vital that young users improve their awareness, knowledge, and ability of mobile security so that they can effectively and enjoyably use their mobile phones.
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A middle school student loves to use Instagram on his mobile phone. One day, an unknown hacker hacked into his Instagram account and started to send weird messages and pictures to the friends of this student as this student would do. The student was totally unaware of what had happened to his Instagram for weeks until some of his friends complained to him.

A popular AP History tutor asked one of her tutees, a high school boy, to put a flash drive into a computer of the student’s AP History teacher. The boy did not know that the tutor had actually tried to install a special program that could detect the password used by AP History teacher in order to change students’ scores in AP History without authorization.

A teenage girl uses her home Wi-Fi device to go online with her own mobile phone. She attended a cybersecurity workshop at school and decided to set up a password for her home Wi-Fi device. Since it is her first time setting up a password for her home Wi-Fi, she does not have the skill to design a good password for every family member. Without too much thinking, she used her birthday as the password so that everyone at home could easily remember it when they wanted to log in to the home Wi-Fi device.

Various mobile security problems such as unauthorized use, identity theft, and privacy intrusion occur when one uses mobile phones (e.g., Jansen, 2009; Rogers, 2013). The three stories presented above are true examples of mobile security problems that young mobile phone users face when they use mobile phones in their daily lives. Each of them is related to one of three types of their mobile security challenges, lacking awareness, lacking knowledge, or lacking ability of mobile security. These are just three incidents of hundreds of such cases where many students have experienced mobile security problems with their own mobile phones. This article is intended to review the existing studies on mobile security problems among children and adolescents. It is motivated by three major reasons.

First, extensive research has reported that young mobile phone users use their mobile phones almost every day and everywhere (e.g., Lenhart, Ling, Campbell, Purcell, 2010; Lenhart, Purcell, Smith, & Zickuhr, 2010; Strasburger, Hogan, Mulligan, Ameenuddin, Christakis et al., 2013). Out of those who use mobile phones, however, as shown in the above three examples, many of them do not have the awareness, knowledge, and ability to deal with mobile security threats. Therefore, mobile security is an urgent issue that needs to be understood so that young mobile phone users can fully enjoy and safely use their mobile phones. Second, children and adolescent usage of mobile phones is among the highest compared to other age groups (e.g., Lenhart, Ling, Campbell, Purcell, 2010). Children and adolescents are active on their phones, but various potential problems they face are unique (e.g., cyberbullying, suicide intention, fake money, family confliction, and personal safety). They are not mature enough to deal with cyber security threats and have less awareness, knowledge, and ability of mobile security compared to adults. Third, mobile security issues among young mobile phone users are often the headlines of public media, as evidenced by the three examples. However, these reports are generally based on anecdotic observations rather than scientific evidence. We need to know the scientific knowledge to develop a better understanding of mobile security among children and adolescents. One of the first steps is to synthesize the current scientific knowledge through a literature review study. As an initial effort, this review is motivated to serve this need.

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