Belfast Telegraph

One third of internet users have experienced 'sexual risk' while interacting online

By Louise Kelly

Three in ten online users - both adults and teenagers - have been exposed to “sexual risk” when interacting on the web.

According to a Microsoft-led survey, this threat was led by “unwanted sexting” (received or sent, 24pc) and “sexual solicitation” (15pc).

The Digital Civility Index (DCI) survey was conducted by the multinational tech firm to study online interactions across 14 countries.

Some 65pc of adults and teens surveyed across several continents reported experiencing online risk at one time.

Despite lower interaction levels, adults reported higher rates of online risk than youth (67pc vs 62pc).

The questionnaire divided online risks into four categories: behavioural, intrusive, reputational and sexual.

The main driver of intrusive risks - and which counted for the highest incidence of any individual risk - was unwanted contact (43pc).

Behavioural risks (39pc) were the second most common occurring risk category.

Over 20pc of those surveyed reported being “treated mean” or being “trolling”; both among the top five individual risks.

As regards reputational risks, “doxing" - the publication of private information on the internet - was the most prevalent - followed by “damage to personal reputation.”

"We all have a responsibility to promote good online practices and to highlight the steps to take and the resources that are out there to help you when you run into trouble," Managing Director, Microsoft Ireland Cathriona Hallahan said.

"The consequences of being exposed to online risks can be severe so this is certainly something we have to take seriously. It’s a challenge we all face – young and old, male and female.”

Research for the DCI was carried out among teens (ages 13-17) and adults (18-74) in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Independent.ie

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