South African internet users have less than desirable behaviour when interacting online, according to data from Microsoft's Digital Civility Challenge released recently.
The study examined the extent of negative behaviours and harassment experienced by internet users aged 18-74 and 13-17 across 23 countries.
Among other things, it looked at how internet users experience internet interactions in their country, whom they interact with the most, and what kinds of interactions they encounter.
Overall, South Africans ranked 22nd out of the 23 countries, with only Peruvians being ruder than us where online interactions are concerned.
The following risks were identified as the top three:
- The country had the third-highest rate of unwanted contact among all countries.
- There was a marked increase of hoaxes, scams and frauds by internet users in South Africa.
- More than one in three respondents experienced a sexual risk, driven by unwanted sexting received or sent – often by people they knew personally.
Further, more than six in 10 respondents experienced one or more forms of harassment. The study defined harassment as unwanted contact, unwanted sexting, online harassment, cyberbullying or misogyny. All forms of harassment were higher for females than males.
At least 19 percent of millennials were extremely concerned about online risks, about the same as other age groups. 14 percent said they were not treated in a safe or civil manner online.
Notably, these high levels of risk exposure coincided with some of the lowest levels of civil behaviour online displayed by millennials in a 2017 study by Microsoft – in which millennials were found to be less likely than other age groups to treat others with respect and dignity, respect other people's point of view or stand up for other people.
But in more positive news, nearly six in 10 respondents said they were very confident in managing online risks, with 40 percent of respondents indicating they knew where to find help if needed.
Males indicated that they were more likely than females to stand up for themselves online.