UK business school study finds students 'safer users' on social media

For all the knocks they take for being less cyber-aware, it seems that millennials, at least those currently in college, are “safer users” of the internet than their slightly older counterparts, recent college grads, a study by the UK's Kingston Business School revealed.

The report looked at the habits of 514 students on social media sites, such as Facebook and Instagram, and compared them to the actions of those who had already left college.

“They found that current students were safer users of social networking services and, therefore, less vulnerable to cyber-crime than those who had graduated or were not in higher education,” according to a blog post on the Kingston University website. “The research also showed that students were open to the use of social media for learning and academic purposes - dispelling the widely-held belief that this group was resistant to the use of social media for anything other than informal networking with friends and family.”

The post quoted the school's associate professor Vladlena Benson, who spearheaded the research for the study, as saying, "Students' use of social media has now matured - and this group is keen to access networking services to support their learning experiences.”

She said her team was surprised to find that about 60 percent of the users turn to social media to gather information, which runs counter to the popular notion that social media was used strictly for socialising.

Benson urged higher education providers not to “miss the opportunity to exploit the tech-savviness of learners because of a mistaken belief that the online environment is too risky or that students won't be interested in using social media for learning."

She also commended the work that universities have done to help keep students safe, particularly fostering community and connectivity. "It has always been difficult for crime to flourish in communities where people enjoy close connections," said Benson. "We believe the bonds that students make on campus coupled with institution-led initiatives make them far less likely to be victims of online crime than at any other point in their lives."

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