Microsoft has published the findings of its Digital Civility Index report for 2018 and it makes for a grim read.

There is a slice of good news in that since 2017 unwanted contact has declined leading to a two point dip in the Digital Civility Index which in turn means folks are getting a bit kinder online.

However, the bad news is that the number of folks surveyed who are experiencing consequences of harassment, cyberbullying and other online risks has increased and here at home things are bad.

“Following online risk exposure, people became less trusting of others both online and off. They said their lives became more stressful; they lost sleep and they were less likely to participate in social media, blogs and online forums. Each of these – the top five consequences from the latest study – posted 3- or 4-point increases over the previous year,” Microsoft explained.

Of the 500 people who were survey locally (referred to as respondents from here on out) 30 percent cited family and friends as a source of risk online.

As many as 61 percent of respondents experienced pain after a negative interaction online and 59 percent worry that the online risk will occur again.

In South Africa intrusive risks are the most widespread. These risks include unwanted contact, hoaxes, hate speech and discrimination to name a few. As many as 69 percent of local respondents said they had experienced intrusive risks online.

Behavioural risks have been experienced by 52 percent of respondents.

Perhaps most disheartening is the fact that 60 percent of respondents felt they were targeted because of their gender.

The good news in this sea of bad is that 92 percent of respondents took some sort of action after experiencing an online risk. That compares favourably with other nations such as the US and UK where 84 percent and 81 percent of respondents took action respectively.

Looking globally, the Digital Civility Index found that millennials were more likely to experience online risks (73 percent) than baby boomers (62 percent). The index also found that teenage girls are more likely to experience risk online than teenage boys.

“The pervasive presence of online risks inflicted widespread emotional, psychological and physical pain. At their mildest, online risks created annoyances that could be quickly ignored or forgotten. At their worst, online risks were severally painful and disabling, generating a host of negative emotions and stress that persisted over time,” Microsoft said.

You can read the findings of the report in full over here and we encourage everybody head over to that link. We could all stand to be a bit kinder to others online and perhaps seeing how many folks are affected by negativity online will make you think twice about being mean to somebody online.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]