Starting from the premise that people are basically good, it is curious that digital platforms, social media sites, messaging apps and other online groups and forums, tend to bring out a less than cordial nature in people. There are characteristics of the digital space that make for interesting human dynamics. Many people act differently online than they do in person. They may be more outgoing, or passive, they may be more aggressive or social online then they are in person. The online world is relatively new, so the social, psychological, cultural, and legal implications leave a lot to be understood.
In observance of Safer Internet Day (SID) on February 7, Microsoft is challenging people around the world to embrace ‘digital civility’ and treat each other with respect and dignity online. Microsoft conducted research among adults and teenagers in 14 countries to study the level of civility across various online interactions. Here are a few excerpts from the survey.
The Digital Civility Index
The Digital Civility Index (DCI) measures consumers’ lifetime exposure to online risks. Online risks are divided into four categories: Behavioral, Intrusive, Reputational and Sexual. Each category consists of several individual risks. DCI scores are based on the percentage of people exposed to at least one of 17 different online risk(s). Lower scores indicate lower online risk exposure and a higher perceived level of Digital Civility.
Gender and digital civility – Males vs Females
The study showed that males reported a higher exposure to online risks (64%), whereas females clearly showed higher concerns across the vast majority of online risks (70%). The findings also revealed that while males in India are more confident about managing incivility (52%), women across the world have a greater likelihood to increase privacy and reduce the amount of information shared online (47%). When it comes to personal risks, a higher number of males in India have experienced it (64%) than females (61%).
Universal age and digital civility – Youth vs Adult
Adults (67%) are more likely to experience an online risk than youth (62%). While adults reported higher incidence of sexual risks than youth, it’s the youth who became victims of and were more likely to suffer from trolling, bullying and treated mean than adults. Youth reported higher incidence across the majority of online risks among family and friends when compared to adults. This only suggested that youth were more willing to share their online risk experiences.