Digital natives

Microsoft has released the findings of its latest Digital Civility Index (DCI), which is an annual survey that examines people’s attitudes and perceptions about online behaviour and interactions. The survey is conducted in 22 countries around the world, including Malaysia, with an aim to raise awareness of the real-world consequences of online risks.

The survey polled teens aged between 13-17 and adults between 18-74, asking about their experiences and encounters with 21 different online risks. These online risks are then categorized within four umbrellas; behavioral risk such as online harassment, intrusive risk such as unwanted contact, sexual risk such as unwanted sexting and reputational risk such as doxxing.

Worldwide, Microsoft’s DCI fell two points from the previous year, driven by a widespread decline in unwanted contact. Malaysia however, registered a small loss in DCI, falling two spots and ranking #6 out of the 22 countries surveyed. Based on the survey, 53% of Malaysians have been asked inappropriate or personal questions by a stranger online, 20 points above the global average, which also makes it the most common type of unwanted contact. Other key findings include:

  1. 66% of Malaysians have experienced unwanted sexting
  2. 62% of Malaysians have encountered fake news
  3. 45% of Malaysians have been called offensive names online
  4. 34% of Malaysians have received persistent unwelcomed demands to develop a romantic or sexual relationship

According to the survey, social circles have become riskier, with risks from family and friends increasing significantly from 11% to 26%. Malaysians have also reported a noticeably higher levels of severe pain as a result of these risks (37%) when compared to the rest of the world (28%).

The survey also indicated that Malaysians face more consequences from online risks and are less inclined to take positive actions as a result of these risks. Examples of these consequences include becoming less trusting of other people online (39%) and losing sleep (38%), whereas examples of positive actions taken as a result of an online risk include tightening privacy settings on social media (43%) and treating the other person with dignity and respect (33%).

Similar to last year’s results, millennials, boomers and teenage girls were the most impacted in terms of risk exposure and its consequences, with 94% of boomers being significantly impacted by the consequences of online risks, suffering moderate to severe pain as a result. On a positive note, the survey also found that more Malaysian teenagers asked for help from their parents when facing and online risk (33%).

Microsoft aims to take the initiative on the realm of cyber safety and security with the DCI, in order to create online services and communities where people feel safe and show the world that online risks have real-world consequences. To this end, Microsoft also designed the Digital Civility Challenge to encourage everyone to pledge to be more civil online. With the availability of the Challenge and Index data, it is hoped that policymakers, companies, and consumers will consider the need for a safer, more respectful internet and leverage the evidentiary base for a global push toward “digital civility.”

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