Microsoft's Digital Civility Index challenges people to be more empathetic online

On Safer Internet Day (SID) 2017, Microsoft challenged people around the world to embrace "digital civility" and to treat each other with respect and dignity online. It may sound simple, but new Microsoft research shows people are concerned about the tone of online interactions and worry that risks will increase in the future.

The research prompted the creation of Microsoft's Digital Civility Index – a new measure of people's safety online and exposure to risks.

In June 2016, Microsoft conducted a study in 14 countries gauging the attitudes and perceptions of teens (ages 13-17) and adults (ages 18-74) about the state of digital civility today. It measured survey respondents' lifetime exposure to 17 online risks across four categories: behavioural, reputational, sexual and personal/intrusive.

Some of the questions asked included:

  • How do you feel about civility, safety and interactions online?
  • Which online risks have you and your close circle experienced?
  • How concerned are you about those 17 risks?
  • When and how often have the risks occurred?
  • What consequences and actions were taken?
  • Where did you and others turn for help?

Results show people experienced these top five risks online:

  • Unwanted contact.
  • Being treated mean.
  • Trolling.
  • Receiving unwanted sexts.
  • Online harassment.

Other key findings include:

  • Two out of three respondents said they had fallen victim to at least one risk; that percentage rose to 78 per cent when participants also accounted for the online experiences of their friends and family members.
  • 50 per cent reported being "extremely or very" worried about life online generally.
  • 62 per cent said they did not know or were unsure where to get help when they encountered an online risk.

Microsoft have used the results to inform what they are calling a "Digital Civility Index" for each country surveyed along with an international index covering all 14 countries in the study. The lower the value (on a scale from zero to 100), the lower the respondents' risk exposure and the higher the perceived level of online civility among people in that country.

Read more about the study, its results, Microsoft's "Digital Civility Challenge" and links to Microsoft's online safety resources in the Microsoft blog post.

See Microsoft's Safer Internet Day Supporter profile page also.

Related news

Microsoft study shows teens are looking to parents for help with online issues

Microsoft's latest study, called "Civility, Safety and Interaction Online – 2018", shows an encouraging development in online safety. Indeed, there has been a stark increase in the numbers of teenagers turning to their parents and other trusted adults to solve online problems. 

Teens play an active role in their own online safety, new Microsoft research shows

It's fundamental that each of us plays a critical role in our own online safety, and young people and teens are no exception. Adults could take a cue from teens in this area, however, as teenagers are more likely to act in response to online risk, defend others and ask for help, according to preliminary results of a new Microsoft study.

Youth commit to being kinder online at US SID event

We recently told you about Microsoft's Digital Civility Index providing a new measure of people's safety online and exposure to risks, launched on the occasion of Safer Internet Day (SID) 2017. Microsoft attended the US Safer Internet Day event to talk about the index. Youth and teens attending the event embraced the corresponding "Digital Civility Challenge" and committed to being kinder and more respectful to one another online.

Do online risks have real-world consequences?

Debating the offline consequences of online behaviour is a frequent topic of discussion in the current digital age, by both internet safety experts and end-users alike.

Teens' concerns about online safety

When it comes to personal online safety, teenagers appear to be aware of the possible imminent risks that they may encounter on the internet just as much as adults.