Two-thirds of Poles aged 16 to 74 use mobile instant messengers, such as WhatsApp and Messenger, for making calls and sending quick messages – this is what Eurostat data for 2020 show. The seemingly impressive percentage, however, puts Poland fourth last among the Member States of the European Union. Experts explain why this occurs and warn that the increase in the popularity of mobile messengers should be followed by an increase in the awareness of existing threats.
Slovenia (63%), Bulgaria and Romania (64% each) – only these countries have fewer people than Poland using instant messengers. In our country, similar to Greece, this percentage is 65%. However, Poland is far behind the countries that are in the forefront of Europe – Denmark (90%), the Netherlands and Spain (91% each). Our result is also below the EU average, which is 75%. Experts note that the relatively low percentage of people who use messengers for conversations or sending messages does not mean there is a technological abyss between Poland and countries in Western Europe.
“The difference of almost 30 percentage points between Poland and other European countries looks surprising, but it doesn’t seem that poorer access to the internet or adequate equipment is the problem. All we need to do is analyse the data in different age groups. In the 16-24 age group, the use of messengers is at 95%, which is above the European average, while in the 65-74 group, it’s just 24%. We could say that Polish seniors aren’t particularly big fans of this form of communication. This is likely due to the fact that they grew up in different times and are not as open to new technologies as their peers in Western Europe,” said Paulina Woźniak-Kołodziej, cybersecurity expert.
Specialists highlight that as subsequent generations grow up, the popularity of instant messengers will certainly continue to increase. That’s why the matter of their security is so important.
“Every day, we’re able to exchange tens or even hundreds of short messages with one person. These aren’t just texts, but also photos or important documents. Remote work means that we also deal with official matters via messengers,” highlighted Paulina Woźniak-Kołodziej. “It’s worth remembering that free messengers don’t always meet basic security functions. We usually “pay” for them with our data, which are disclosed by developers, for example, for marketing purposes. According to Eurostat data, almost 23% of Poles have never limited or denied an application’s access to personal data. This is very alarming. It’s worth adding that paid messengers available on the market often leave “backdoors” that could potentially enable our conversations to be taken over. Therefore, I don’t doubt that progress in communication must go hand in hand with the increased security of these apps,” she added.
As experts remind us, 15 July is World Day without Mobile Phones. In their opinion, it may not be possible to completely give up a smartphone these days, but users can use this occasion to consider how important secure online communication is to them.
Paulina Woźniak-Kołodziej – cybersecurity expert with over 20 years of experience in programming, management and marketing. She specialises in implementing an innovative approach to business. Her main interests include blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies and security in mobile communication.