Press Release

May 24, 2019
Digital Arts Inc.

Fact-finding survey regarding mobile phone/smartphone use by minors
49.5% of high schoolers have online-only friends
— Low level of awareness about dangers of "Selfie harm" etc.
Even with awareness of risks of personal information leaks, trust in online friends is high, making it easy to send information and/or pictures 69.9% of high school girls have a second account — Purpose is to express real feelings that could not otherwise be shared with real-life friends

Information security solution provider Digital Arts Inc. (headquartered in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan, CEO: Toshio Dogu, hereinafter referred to as "Digital Arts", Code 2326) has carried out our 12th fact-finding survey to understand the current situation of mobile phone/smartphone use by minors. 618 male and female elementary, junior high school and high school students who have a mobile phone or smartphone responded, in addition to 618 adults with children of the same age, for a total of 1,236 respondents.

In this survey we looked at the ratio of minors who have smartphones, what percent of those use some sort of filtering, as well as the current situation regarding internet and social media-based communications.
The results of the survey are summarized below.

Mobile phone/smartphone use for minors (ages 10 to 18) and filtering use ratio
  • For minors who have mobile phones, 94.5% of those are smartphones
    94.5% of mobile phones possessed by minors are smartphones, which is a 3.7% increase from last year. In particular, the rate for elementary school children went up to 90.0%, a jump of 16.5% from last year.
  • 40.0% of minors use some sort of filtering
    52.9% of minors said that they heard some information about filtering settings at the time of mobile phone purchase, which is up by 15.4% compared to last year. However, only 40.0% said they are using filtering, a 9.5% drop from last year.
Net-based communication
  • 49.5% of high school students had online-only friends
    The percentage of high school students with friends whom they only communicate with online (online friends) was 49.5%.
    24.1% of minors thought that it was OK to share their face or physical appearance with these online friends. 21.6% thought it was OK to reveal their actual name.
  • 64.8% of high school girls wanted to turn an online friendship into a real life one.
    48.7% of all minors desired to meet their online friends in real life, while that number was higher at 64.8% for high school girls.
Awareness of risks that come with internet use
  • The dangers of information leaks are becoming more generally known in society (an increase of 21.0% to 43.0% of minors)
    The percentage of respondents who felt that there is danger associated with personal information leaks has risen for guardians to 43.5%, an increase of 14.5% over last year, while among minors this was 43.0%, a 21.0% increase.
  • Among respondents, a low number felt there was danger from "selfie harm"* (97.2% of guardians and 93.7% of minors did not feel so)
    Relatively few respondents felt there was danger inherent in selfies, with only 2.8% of guardians and 6.3% of minors feeling that was the case.
  • * Selfie harm — Harm that comes when minors are tricked or blackmailed into taking pictures of themselves nude and sending the pictures by e-mail. Cases of this have been recently on the rise.
State of social media app, picture/video-taking app use
  • 56.1% of minors post events from their private lives or speak about their true feelings on social media
    What respondents posted to social media or picture/video apps was: "Private events or feelings," which was highest among minors at 56.1%, while for high school girls it was "my own way of thinking or things I'm worried about" at 53.4%.
  • Of high school girls who communicated by social media, 18.6% had been asked to send selfies.
    18.6% of high school girls who communicate with specific partners online via social media were "asked to send selfies that show their face and/or bodies" while 7.0% had "posted or sent to a specific partner information or pictures/video I would be uncomfortable sharing with family, friends or people around me."
Second accounts
  • 69.9% of high school girls, and 47.6% of junior high school girls had second accounts
    69.9% of high school girls, and 47.6% of junior high school girls had second accounts, which was a major increase of 18.5%.
  • Among minors, second accounts were mostly used to communicate about likes, hobbies, celebrities, artists and the like at 47%. The reason was, "It's easier to say things or express feelings that I don't want to be known by somebody who knows me in real life" which was at 40.1% for minors.
Survey Outline
Survey target: Male and female minors aged 10 to 18 who have some sort of mobile phone or smartphone and guardians who have children of the same age.
Survey period: April 1 (Mon.)-April 2 (Tue.), 2019
Survey method: Internet survey
Valid responses: 1,236 samples (minors: 618 samples, guardians: 618 samples)
Conducting organization: Macromill Inc.

Possibility of sending important information from the sense of trust in online friends — Issues with online information exchange

Nearly half of high school students had online friends, and there was a trend seen where respondents sought out like-minded friends to exchange information about hobbies, things they like, and other topics. Some respondents felt it was OK to expose their "face or appearance" or "real name" to online friends, showing a measurable level of trust in these friends.

There was an upward trend in high school and junior high school girls having second accounts, and these were used to express thoughts and feelings they do not want known to somebody who knows them in their real life.

Both guardians and minors were more aware than last year of the risks of internet use, while that awareness was limited to societal common sense like "personal information leaks" and the like. More specific dangers such as "selfie harm" or the dangers associated with meeting people online remained low.

Online acquaintances took advantage of minors' states of mind with abusive intent, asking them to send important information or pictures, etc., actions which bring the potential of causing real harm. In the Tokyo metropolitan area, an addendum was added to the "Regulations for the Healthy Education of Youth in Tokyo Metropolis" on February 1 last year, making it a crime to improperly request "self-taken images" in this way. This is one step aimed at combating harm that can come in this area.

To prevent harm from occurring, the first step is for the affected children and their guardians to understand and be aware of the risks of internet use, and to exercise caution about online information exchange, while also creating an environment where guardians can quickly give advice when children experience any kind of issue. It is very important that each individual household has a method where guardians can keep a close eye on their children's internet use.

Guardians should monitor minors' length of internet use and what it is being used for. They should also limit what applications and social media can be used via filtering software. This should be done in a clever way, and in with the child's age and maturity. However, this kind of monitoring was seen to be on the decline.

One cause of this is that web filters and app filters are not well matched to the needs of the minors in this case. In response, Digital Arts thinks as an internet filtering software provider, we should take steps to protect minors' internet environment, such as by fully blocking harmful sites while making safe sites minors want to check viewable as quickly as possible. We can do this by improving filtering functionality through methods like categorizing harmful sites and periodically reviewing these categories, as well as taking other steps.

As an information security provider going forward, Digital Arts aims to work toward raising information literacy and promoting the spread of filtering solutions, so that as many people as possible can use the internet safely.

Digital Arts

Digital Arts is an information security manufacturer that deals with the provision of security software such as those for the web, mail, and files.

We are at a leading company for presenting Japanese web filtering software to the world for the first time at the dawn of the internet in 1998, and based on the knowledge we have gained we present cutting-edge information security products that implement measures against cyberattacks such as information leaks and targeted attacks.

While making use of our strength as a domestic manufacturer, we consistently provide every phase from product planning through development, sales, and support. Our web filtering database, which is the greatest level in Japan for supporting the foundation of products, and our technological strength, with patents acquired in 27 countries and areas of the world, are highly regarded. Our record of over 95% contract renewal rate is the proof of our high customer satisfaction.

Our product lineup, centered on the web security software "i-FILTER" that has over 50% market share in Japan, includes "i-Filter" for individuals and households, the email security software "m-FILTER," and the file encryption and tracking solution "FinalCode," so we can provide web security measures for the web, mail, and files in one stop.

Under the concept of "contributing to a more convenient, more comfortable, and safer internet life," Digital Arts continues to grow as a company that is listed on the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange and that is trusted by all stakeholders.
  • ※ DIGITAL ARTS, i-FILTER, info board, ARS, Active Rating System, ACTIVE RATING, ZBRAIN, D-SPA, SP-Cache, NET FILTER, White Web, m-FILTER, m-FILTER MailFilter, m-FILTER Archive, m-FILTER Anti-Spam, m-FILTER File Scan, Mail Detox, FinalCode, DigitalArts@Cloud, Chat@Cloud, D Alert, D Content, and related logos and icons are trademarks or registered trademarks of Digital Arts Inc.

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