In the United States, young adults are more than twice as likely as older Americans to cyber-stalk their current or former romantic partners.
New research by NortonLifeLock found three in five Gen Z and Millennial American adults who have been in a romantic relationship (60% of those ages 18 to 39) have digitally checked up on an ex or current squeeze without their knowledge or consent.
The same admission was made by just a quarter (24%) of Americans aged 40 years old or older.
Survey responses about cyber-stalking and online habits were gathered from more than 10,000 adults 18+ across 10 countries, including 1,000 adults in the United States, as part of the “2021 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report: Special Release – Online Creeping” report.
Nearly half of Americans aged 19 to 39 who are in a relationship said they wouldn’t be surprised to find their partner was spying on them via an app. Two in five (42%) said they believe their significant other is at least somewhat likely to download creepware or stalkerware onto their device(s) to monitor activity such as text messages, phone calls, direct messages, emails, and photos.
This figure is three times higher than the percentage of Americans aged 40 or older (14%) who gave the same response.
While more than one-third of Americans ages 18 to 39 said they considered it harmless to stalk a current or former partner online (35%), just 11% of Americans who are 40 or older agreed.
Worryingly, 14% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 39 who have been in a romantic relationship admitted using an app to secretly monitor their partner’s device activity.
Men were found to be three times more likely than women to use an invasive app to spy on their partner.
The findings were published on June 24 as a special addendum to the 2021 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report (NCSIR).
“Between September 2020 and May 2021, our research team found a 63% uptick in the number of devices infected with stalkerware, amounting to more than 250,000 compromised devices per month,” remarked Kevin Roundy, technical director and stalkerware specialist with Norton Labs, NortonLifeLock’s research division.
“It’s alarming to think about this increase within the context of our study.”