In observance of Safer Internet Day (5 February), new Microsoft research has revealed that millennials (aged 18 to 34) and teenagers (aged 13 to 17) in Singapore were the hardest hit by online risks compared to other consumer groups. According to the 2019 Microsoft Digital Civility Study, 69 percent of millennials and 66 percent of teenagers in Singapore have encountered at least one form of online risk – including exposure to unwanted contact; hoaxes, scams and fraud; behavioural risks and sexual risks – in their lifetime, ahead of the Generation X (59 percent) and Baby Boomers (48 percent).
The Study also uncovered that teenagers here faced an average of 2.6 online risks in their lifetime, with teenage girls being more vulnerable, averaging 3 online risks compared to the 2.2 faced by teenage boys. Millennials, on the other hand, averaged 2.5 online risks, significantly higher than the Generation X and Baby Boomers, who average 2.1 and 1.4 online risks respectively.
Conducted with 11,000 respondents in 22 countries, including 500 Singapore adults (aged 18 to 74) and teenagers (aged 13 to 17) in May 2018, the Microsoft Digital Civility Study was specifically designed to uncover insights into consumers’ lifetime exposure to a wide range of online risks, to shed light on the impact of online risks to their well-being, while informing them about how to stay safe and secure online.
Having yielded insights that 63 percent of the Singapore respondents have encountered at least one form of online risk in their lifetime, lower than the global average of 66 percent, the Study placed Singapore 10th out of 22 countries for the overall rate of exposure to online risks (Figure 1).
Encountering offensive content and fake news stood out as top online risks in Singapore
While the overall incidence of exposure to online risks for Singaporeans was lower than the global average, the country stood out for its rate of exposure to specific types of risks. According to the Study, the most common type of online risks faced by the Singapore respondents include:
- Sexual risks: Receiving unwanted sexual messages or images topped the list with 68 percent of the local respondents saying that they have encountered this situation before, higher than the global average of 67 percent.
- Hoaxes, scams and frauds: Encountering fake news came in second, with 61 percent of local respondents saying that they have encountered this situation before, higher than the global average of 57 percent.
- Behavioural risks: Being called offensive names came in third, with 54 percent of local respondents saying that they were called offensive names before, higher than the global average of 51 percent.
- Unwanted contact: Being contacted by a stranger to collect personal information came in fourth, with 45 percent of local respondents saying that they encountered this situation, higher than the global average of 42 percent.
What was even more surprising was that while 29 percent of the online risks encountered by Singapore respondents came from strangers, 41 percent of these risks came from people that the respondents knew, including online acquaintances, casual acquaintances and co-workers. Additionally, 24 percent of the online risks encountered by Singapore respondents came from their own family and friends.
Impact of online risks more pronounced on Singapore’s millennials and teenagers
Overall, Singapore respondents expressed lower levels of pain from the online risks encountered. 64 percent of the respondents reported mild to moderate pain, with only 15 percent reporting severe levels of pain from their online risk encounters.
However, the impact of online risks was more pronounced on millennials and teenagers, with 51 percent of millennials and teenagers reporting moderate to severe pain following their online risk encounters, which can include widespread emotional, psychological and physical pain.
With the impact of online risks on teenagers being the most disconcerting, the Study also revealed that only slightly over half (55 percent) of the Singapore teens would reach out for help following an online risk encounter. 32 percent of Singapore teenagers who have encountered such risks would ask their parents for help, lower than the global average of 42 percent; while 23 percent would ask an adult for help, lower than the global average of 28 percent; showing that more needs to be done to help local teenagers seek help when facing online risks.
“As we continue to interact with and in the digital world, we can no longer sit back and allow these online risks to have a negative impact on our lives. Each day, we are being bombarded with unsolicited online content ranging from emails sent by unknown third-parties to the circulation of fake news and unwanted sexual messages. And these represent just a fraction of the common scenarios that Singaporeans face in everyday living. Today on Safer Internet Day, it’s time for us to take a stand. By participating in the Microsoft Digital Civility Challenge and committing to making the four digital civility ideals a reality, we can do our part to help a build a better and safer digital environment for everyone,“ said Richard Koh, Chief Technology Officer, Microsoft Singapore.
Kick-start change with the Digital Civility Challenge to foster a safer Internet for everyone
Today on Safer Internet Day, Microsoft is encouraging all Internet users to take part in the annual Digital Civility Challenge and practise the four digital civility ideals to create a more positive online environment for everyone:
- Living the golden rule: I will act with empathy, compassion and kindness in every interaction, and treat everyone I connect with online with dignity and respect.
- Respecting differences: I will appreciate cultural differences and honour diverse perspectives. When I disagree, I will engage thoughtfully and avoid name-calling and personal attacks.
- Pausing before replying: I will pause and think before responding to things I disagree with. I will not post or send anything that could hurt someone else, damage someone’s reputation, or threaten my safety or the safety of others.
- Standing up for myself and others: I will tell someone if I feel unsafe, offer support to those who are targets of online abuse or cruelty, report activity that threatens anyone’s safety, and preserve evidence of inappropriate or unsafe behaviour.
Users can also encourage their friends and family on social media to join in the challenge with #challenge4civility or #Im4digitalcivility.
Find out more ways to get involved today at: https://www.microsoft.com/digital-skills/digital-civility