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Comunicar Journal 60: How to become a genius. Personalized learning and high capacities in the connected society (Vol. 27 - 2019)

Taiwanese university students’ smartphone use and the privacy paradox


Yi-Ning Katherine-Chen

Chia-Ho Ryan-Wen


With the prevalence of smart devices and wireless Internet, privacy has become a pivotal matter in governmental, academic, and technological fields. Our study aims to understand Taiwanese university students’ privacy concerns and protective behaviours in relation to online targeting ads and their habitual smartphone usage. Surveying 810 valid subjects, our results first propose that ad relevance has direct bearing on attention to ads. Second, ad relevance inversely correlates with privacy concerns (i.e. descending personal control and surging corporate power) and protective behaviours (self-filtering and ad evasion). Third and finally, neither privacy concerns nor protective behaviours have a negative bearing on habitual smartphone usage. Opposite to previous research, our study concludes that Taiwanese college students exhibit zero privacy paradox, owing to no signs of privacy concern incited by mobile targeting ads, no evidence of significant protective behaviours, and no decreasing habitual smartphone usage out of privacy concern and protection. Our findings indicate Taiwanese university students’ shaky awareness of potential risks and crises from exposure to vulnerable online privacy management. To deal with this, we suggest educating youths’ understandings of digital jeopardy by experts is urgently needed more so than just technical tutorials of privacy settings.


Privacy strategy, privacy paradox, privacy education, privacy concern, privacy protection, smartphone, targeting advertising, ad avoidance