Almost 40% of US teens have received hurtful messages online, says new Microsoft study

Laurent Giret

Microsoft has announced today that it plans to release a short series of research studies about online safety ahead of the celebration of the  Safer Internet Day 2017 on February 7. The first study, “Keeping Up with Generation App,” was released today and revealed that 39% of American teens report that someone was mean or cruel to them in the digital world in the last year, which is quite concerning.

The study was conducted by the National Cyber Security Alliance, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization promoting cyber-security and privacy education and awareness. During the study, the NCSA polled 804 teens, ages 13 to 17 in the U.S., as well as 810 American parents of teens in the same age group. Jacqueline Beauchere, Microsoft Chief Online Safety Officer explained that “looking across the range of results, age demographics and geographies, data show a broad need for a focus on “digital civility.”

You can find below an infographic that sums up the main results from this first study, and you can also download the the full study from this link.

Keeping Up With Generation Infographic
Keeping Up With Generation App: NCSA Parent/Teen Online Safety Survey

While you probably won’t need this study to learn that the Internet can be a dangerous place, it’s still worth reminding that online safety can be very challenging for teenagers. Additionally, the study reveals that teens are not very likely to turn to their parents for help with various online problems: 40% of them turn to friends first and 48% “never” or “rarely” turn to their parents for help. Michael Kaiser, NCSA’s executive director added that adults should become more aware of what teens are doing online:

“Parents, teachers and other adults who spend time with teens should be aware of the kinds of experiences teens are having online and should help them strategize responses to negative behaviors.  Additionally, we should help teens understand the importance of treating their peers and others with respect online and work to reduce the incidents of cruel behavior.”

Microsoft added that preliminary results of follow-on surveys will be released to the public in the coming weeks and months. Let us know in the comments what do you think of the results from this study.