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.

Nine in 10 teens polled said they acted in response to an online risk; nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) said they stood up for others in the digital space, and more than three quarters (77 per cent) asked for help when they encountered online abuse. That compares to 84 per cent of adults who acted in response to an online risk, 59 per cent who defended someone else and 60 per cent who asked for help. Teens outpaced adults across all three categories. In addition, 56 per cent of teens said they knew where to go for help with an uncomfortable online situation, compared to just one third of adults.

Microsoft study expands research launched last year

The findings are from Microsoft's latest research on digital civility — encouraging safer and healthier online interactions. The study, "Civility, Safety and Interaction Online — 2017," polled teens ages 13-17 and adults ages 18-74 in 231 countries. This year's results build on a study done last year that surveyed the same age groups in 14 countries. In 2017, there were 11,584 teens and adults polled in total.

Indeed, it's up to young people – with solid guidance from parents, teachers, technology companies and others – to understand their digital rights and responsibilities, to recognise the risks and benefits of their online communications and transactions, and to realise the personal and ethical implications of their online behaviour. These are some of the reasons Microsoft organised its pilot Council for Digital Good this year.

This article is an abstract from a recent Microsoft blog article, and is reproduced here with permission. Read the full Microsoft blog article on the "Microsoft on the issues" blog, which includes further information on the work of the Council for Digital Good and news of a public service announcement (PSA) on sextortion.

[1] Countries surveyed: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam.


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