The preliminary results of the European survey on Digital Footprint Awareness

The European Digital Learning Network has promoted a self-sustained survey in collaboration with Prof. Przemek Sękalski of the Technical University of Lodz and Lifelong Learning Platform, to collect data on the level of awareness of European citizens on their digital footprint from July 2018 to August 2019. Additionally, the research looked at the control citizens currently exercise over their digital footprint, and on the level of control, they would like to keep

This initiative has been granted with the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition pledge both in 2018 and 2019. This article will present the preliminary result of this European survey. 

The survey was disseminated in 13 languages: English, Albanian, Bulgarian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Romanian, Slovenian and Spanish. It has received a total of 19.729 responses:

  • 65% of the answer was given by women (i.e. 12.679 women),
  • 31,64% by men (i.e. 6044 of men), 
  • 4% of people preferred not to express their gender (i.e. 718 people).

The profile of the respondents showed us that 13.746 are employed, 10.959 are aged between 26 and 50 years old. Also, 74,64% indicated to have intermediate digital skills.

Moreover, the first results of the survey revealed us from which countries are the respondents: 

  • United Kingdom 12,35%
  • Belgium 10,14% 
  • Germany 9,78%
  • France 9,81% 
  • Portugal 7,97% 
  • Italy 6,70% 
  • Ireland 6,88% 
  • Spain 5,6% 
  • Greece 4,5% 
  • Romania 3,5% 
  • Bulgaria 3,7% 

Last but not least, the outcomes exposed important information about the opinion of digital rights and online behavior of the respondents: 

  • 80% do not read privacy policy text in full before agreeing to new subscriptions 
  • 80,36% try to be more mindful of what they publish online
  • 92,65% pay particular attention to the disclosure of financial information  
  • 78,10% have recently changed privacy settings on social media 
  • 70,44% acknowledge that they are not in full control of their digital identity 
  • 50,45% would like their data to remain private and not used for any purpose 
  • 72,36% suggest that social media companies should provide more opportunity for media education 
  • 78,75% think that social media platforms and service providers should comply with stricter regulations 

Those first outcomes showed that European citizens do not have a clear perception of the issues related to the digital footprint.

It is the reason why they would like to receive more information from the campaigns/ education sector, to know how to control their digital footprint on social media. Furthermore, there is an important demand from the respondents: to raise their awareness, have more tools to have a higher control of their data. 

To provide digital skills requested, it is essential to 

  • boost citizens’ knowledge on cybersecurity, to secure themselves and their relatives
  • have more training opportunities to increase the awareness of digital identity
  • shorten the distance between social media companies and citizens
  • advertise through education a safe and responsible online behaviour

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