Norton by Symantec has released the findings of its research into online harassment and its impact on New Zealand men, revealing that three quarters (72 percent) of New Zealand men under 30, and more than half of all New Zealand men (58 percent), have experienced some form of online harassment.
Common forms of online harassment range from abuse and insults (35 percent), trolling (27 percent), threats of violence (21 percent), and death threats (14 percent).
Mark Shaw, Norton Security Expert at Symantec, Pacific region, said the research uncovers the prevalence of harassment against men in the online world and reveals that online harassment is an everyday trial for specific members of our community.
“The Norton survey reveals there are some risk factors that make some men more vulnerable to online harassment than their other male counterparts. Men from minority religious beliefs are attacked because of their faith in 21 percent of cases; gay, bisexual and transgender men are targeted because of their sexual orientation in 23 percent of cases, compared with 8 percent of heterosexual men; and men with disabilities are attacked because of their physical or intellectual disabilities in 15 per cent of cases,” said Shaw.
“The Norton research shows that men are actively experiencing negative interactions and that they are vulnerable online. We’re hoping that New Zealand men recognise they have options, and can and should speak up about their online experiences, report serious harassment and threats when they occur, and take reasonable precautions while online.
“The survey findings indicate that New Zealand men take the Kiwi ‘she’ll be right’ attitude towards negative online experiences. Most men ignore (45 percent), block (37 percent) or unfriend (28 percent) perpetrators, but this approach doesn’t address the emotional impact these experiences may have on them. Ten percent of men indicated they felt powerless to do anything, 8 percent reported the activity to the police, and 8 percent sought legal advice and 4 percent threatened legal action,” said Shaw.
Men may be attacked online for a range of reasons. In nearly half of cases no specific aspect of a person’s lifestyle or circumstances are singled out. When aspects are targeted, top issues include physical appearance and weight issues (14 percent and 10 percent), race and ethnic background and religion (13 percent and 10 percent), sexual orientation (11 percent), and learning difficulties and mental illness (six percent).
In cases of harassment, feelings of anger are the most common response (36 percent). Depression and anxiety were also common at 14 and 13 percent. Less common were feelings of violation and abuse (10 percent), feeling helpless and vulnerable (9 percent), and suicidal feelings (7 percent).
Online crossed into the physical world in two interesting areas. About three percent of men resorted to physical violence in response to online harassment, and threats of violence and death threats prompted police involvement in 25 percent of cases.
"There are real consequences to online harassment which can have long lasting impacts, no matter your gender," said Martin Cocker, NetSafe Chief Executive Officer. "As online and offline activities become more connected than ever before it's important everyone adopts safe and secure online behaviours and understands their options if they are threatened. NetSafe has a variety of information and how-to guides at netsafe.org.nz.”
For many forms of online harassment, both New Zealand men and women often unfriended, blocked or asked website owners to censor or ban offenders. In addition, many New Zealanders felt that authorities needed to take online harassment more seriously and that more laws were needed to deal with all forms of online harassment.
Privacy settings set on social media accounts were widely used (75 percent), but about a quarter of men (24 percent) are still unaware, don’t know how, or haven’t found the time to use them. The survey found private settings were favoured over public by 58 percent to 17 percent respectively. 20 percent of New Zealand men used their privacy settings to prevent people from bullying them while 35 percent used them to prevent people from stalking them.
Nearly 44 percent of New Zealand men had been approached by someone online with a false identity – yet 35 percent of New Zealand men accepted friend requests from strangers.
Some ways to prevent and address online harassment include: