Nearly 30% Indians experienced sexual risk online in 2017: Study

New Delhi: Nearly three in 10 Indians experienced a sexual risk online, including unwanted sexting, in 2017 with males reporting higher levels of harassment than females, a Microsoft study said on Tuesday.

It found that 23 per cent males reported harassment as compared to 16 per cent females, which was driven by unwanted sexting.

The Microsoft study, that examined the extent of negative behaviour and online interactions and their consequences, defined harassment as unwanted contact, unwanted sexting, online harassment, cyberbullying or misogyny.

Ranking the country seventh — out of 23 countries surveyed — with a Digital Civility Index (DCI) of 61 per cent, the report, however, said that the consequences from harassment were higher for females than males.

“Females were more likely to lose trust in people online and offline, have greater life stress and had higher rates of depression,” the report said.

The report said that the exposure to online risks among family or friends was 69 per cent — slightly above the global average (65 per cent).

While, unwanted contact remained the top risk by a wide margin, hoaxes, scams and frauds was 10 points lower than the global average.

“Nearly one-third of Indians experienced a behavioural risk which was eight points below the global average. Trolling declined and fell below the global average by six points. Reputational risks rose a combined three points led by damage to personal and work reputation,” the report said.

The report found that in India 20 per cent online risks were facilitated by family and friends as compared to 17 per cent globally.

Nearly 77 per cent of respondents said they were treated in a safe and civil manner online which is 12 points above the global average (65 per cent).

Forty-four per cent of respondents had met their perpetrator in real life versus 53 per cent globally.

“Among those who had met their perpetrators, 75 per cent met before the risk occurred.

The average number of risks was 72 per cent higher among those who had met the perpetrator in real life versus those who had not,” the report said.

Familiarity with the perpetrator in real life also affected exposure to consequences.

Two-thirds of respondents (67 per cent) suffered at least one consequence from online risks with loss of trust in people online and loss of sleep being the most common.

“Among those who had met their perpetrator in real life, 40 per cent lost trust in people online and 37 per cent lost sleep. This compared to lost trust in people online (34 per cent) and lost sleep (19 per cent) for those who had not met the perpetrator in real life,” the report found.

Most respondents said they practiced civil behaviour, with India (64 per cent) exceeding the global average (52 per cent) on standing up for themselves.

Nearly 36 per cent Indians stood up for others as compared to the 27 per cent global average.

Females (76 per cent) were more likely than males (69 per cent) to treat others with respect and dignity.

Sixty-five per cent females respected other people’s point of view as compared to 59 per cent males. Generation X (ages 35-49) and baby boomers (ages 50-74) reported the highest levels of civil behaviour.

The report also found that millennials (ages 18-34) had the highest levels of risk exposure (67 per cent). Conversely, baby boomers (ages 50-74) had the lowest DCI (40 per cent).