The end of this quarter was dominated by the unprecedented impacts of COVID-19. In a very short period New Zealand, and the world, has changed how we connect, learn and work. It has been a busy time for Netsafe, and this just followed on the trend that we started the year with.
From January to March, we saw an increase in personal harm report covering the full online safety incident spectrum – from online hate to child sexual abuse to image-based abuse to privacy breaches to harmful hate speech.
We had a record number of supporters join us for Safer Internet Day. This year we doubled the number of supporters with many new partners from industry, government, civil society and schools participating. I want to thank everyone who supported New Zealand’s 2020 Safer Internet Day efforts and look forward to collaborating again in the future.
The day also marked the release of the second Ngā taiohi matihiko o Aotearoa – New Zealand Kids Online study into Kiwi kids’ experiences of harm online. The insights inform our work and enable us to provide practical advice and better support young people and their whānau.
Our focus on young people continued as we inducted our Auckland based Youth Action Squad (YAS) into online safety. Our YAS were given the knowledge to plan and lead initiatives around the online safety issues that affect them. Recruitment for our nationwide YAS members will be happening soon so keep an eye out for details.
I feel like I write this every quarter now, but it seems particularly relevant to finish this quarter’s update recognising that Netsafe operates in an era of unprecedented technology innovation, digital disruption and always on connectivity. The team are continuing to help people stay connected and stay safe.
I hope you enjoy reading about the activities and initiatives we have undertaken in the last quarter.
Neil Melhuish, Director of Policy and Research
On Safer Internet Day, we released our second report as New Zealand’s member of the Global Kids Online network looking at children’s experiences of online risks and their perceptions of harm.
Netsafe carries out harmful digital communications research to inform the development of our services and resources such as the recently launched Online Safety Parent Toolkit. We also believe these insights are for all New Zealanders with an interest in online safety issues – from individual internet users to policy makers – and use a range of channels to make them as accessible as possible.
For example, the children’s online risk and harm findings reached an audience of 3.25 million New Zealanders, the online hate speech findings released in December 2019 has influenced research and policy work in NZ and international contexts, while our body of research was ranked in the top 10 percent of downloads from SSRN in the year to April 2020.
These are just a few snapshots of the interest in the work we undertake, and we are always looking to create more.
One of the things underway includes a joint study by Netsafe and Women’s Refuge to measure the incidence of technology-facilitated intimate partner violence and explore related attitudes and behaviours. The aim is to generate actionable findings about this important topic as a contribution towards addressing digital aspects of family violence. This links to Netsafe’s experience supporting people who report online intimate partner abuse and previous research such as 2019’s image-based sexual abuse study.
We are also working to complete reports about adults’ perpetration of harmful digital communications and parents’ digital experiences. If you are interested in learning more about these topics or talking about how we can work together to apply research evidence, please contact me.
Between January and March 2020, Netsafe received 4421 reports which is a 6.6 percent decrease compared to last quarter. Although we have seen a 21.8 percent increase in personal harm reports.
There has also been a 17.5 decrease in scam and fraud reports. We have seen a slight increase in reports from gender diverse people and males, and a 14.3 percent increase in reports from people aged between 22-40.
TOTAL REPORTS (-6.6%*)
PERSONAL HARM COMPLAINTS (+21.8%*)
SCAM & FRAUD REPORTS (-17.6%*)
OTHER REPORTS (+9.2%*)
* Percentage change based on reports made to Netsafe between quarter three and quarter two
Reports by age group
Overall reports to Netsafe by age group.
Reports by gender
Personal Harm Reporting
There were 422 breaches of the 10 communication principles between January and March which is 6.7 percent decrease compared to the previous quarter. The most reported personal harm categories for the quarter were:
Reported breaches under the Harmful Digital Communications Act*
* Cases often involve breaches of more than one communications principle
Scam and Fraud Reporting
There was a significant decrease in the scam and fraud losses reported to Netsafe during this quarter. People reported a combined loss of $5,007,020.18 in 937 reports. This is an average loss of $5,343.67. Last quarter the average loss was $7,115.80.
Scam & fraud snapshot
REPORTS WITH $ LOSSES
Top scam categories reported
Education & Engagement
Netsafe continued to provide practical tools, advice and information to help people have better online experiences. We supported schools and kura commencing the school year with requests for presentations, advice and incident response – secondary schools reported the most number of incidents.
Followers across our social channels grew and subscribers to our regular newsletters increased. We saw our traditional media reach increase by 30.8 percent compared to the previous quarter. Netsafe featured prominently in proactive and reactive media commentary related to online safety.
Netsafe Media Releases and Public Engagement
We released new figures that revealed the number of Kiwis ripped off in romance scams is up, and mostly females are impacted to try to raise awareness of the ways criminals try to exploit singles using online dating apps. Media release issued 14 February.
Our 2020 Auckland Youth Action Squad were inducted into all things online safety back in January. This group of amazing young people are helping other young people have better online experiences. Check out what some of them had to say after training.
Safer Internet Day
A record number of supporters joined together to help people in New Zealand have more positive experiences online – and we want to recognise anything that will help us make a difference. Here’s a wrap of how it unfolded.
Netsafe Research Releases
New Zealand children’s experiences of online risks and their perceptions of harm
Our second report from Netsafe’s latest research, Ngā taiohi matihiko o Aotearoa – New Zealand Kids Online provides details about a variety of topics including the online interactions kids are having with people they don’t know and how frequently they are exposed to concerning online material. The key findings reveal:
- Nearly four in 10 New Zealand kids have had contact online with someone they didn’t know, and one in 10 have met someone they first knew online.
- Older kids were more likely to have had contact online with someone they have not met in person rather than young children. Only 23 percent of 9 to 11-year olds and 38 percent of 12 to 14-year olds had interacted with someone new online, while 54 percent of 15 to 17-year olds had made contact.
- Some kids met people face-to-face that they first got to know online. Those aged 9-11 were less likely to have met someone (3 percent), the rate increased for 12-14-year olds and was highest among those aged 15-17 years (18 percent).
- Most respondents reported feeling happy (63 percent) after meeting an online contact and 25 percent were ambivalent about the meeting. Interestingly more boys reported having had online contact with someone they didn’t know compared to girls.
- Almost half of teenagers have been exposed to potentially harmful online content – including self-harm and suicide material.
- A quarter of children have been bothered or upset by something that happened online in the last year.
- Of the study’s teenage participants (aged 13-17), 36 percent said while online they had seen violent images and 27 percent viewed hateful content.
- Teenagers are accessing self-harm material (20 percent) and some are even digesting “how-to-suicide guides” (17 percent). Fifteen percent searched information on “ways to be very thin”.
- Participants were questioned about who they turn to for help in the wake of an upsetting online incident. An overwhelming 69 percent chose a parent, 37 percent a friend and 17 percent a sibling. Eleven percent of children elected to speak with no one.
- Of the teenagers who report being exposed to potentially harmful content, 28 percent said they were “fairly” or “very” upset and that number was higher for girls (38 percent) compared to boys (18 percent).
Netsafe is an independent non-profit organisation with an unrelenting focus on online safety. We keep people safe online by providing free support, advice and education. Visit netsafe.org.nz for useful resources or call 0508 638 723 seven days a week for help with an online incident.
Find out more at www.netsafe.org.nz
Become a Netsafe member
Netsafe is incorporated as a society and a charity. Our members represent a variety of backgrounds and countries, but all have one thing in common – an interest in keeping people safe online. Membership is free and easy to apply for. Find out more about being a Netsafe member or apply by completing our online form.Become a member
The data in this report represents the data available at the end of the quarter. Information related to the reports made to Netsafe reflect high-level trends, and does not include easily identifiable information about specific reports/incidents.
If you have any queries about the information in this report, please email [email protected]