by Divina Paredes

Survey reveals heightened concern among Kiwis over security of personal data, fake news and cyberbullying

Aug 24, 2017
Big DataCareersCloud Computing

A new survey finds 93 per cent of Kiwis have access to the internet both at home, work or both.

Of these connected Kiwis, 94 per cent say they check the internet daily.

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But this constant connectivity also raises concerns over a range of issues.

InternetNZ, which commissioned the survey, says when asked what their top five internet concerns were, the respondents cited the following:

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Over a third (38 per cent) of respondents said their main concern is threats to the security of personal data. This is up 11 percent from 2016, says Andrew Cushen, deputy chief executive, InternetNZ. He points out the responses above are unprompted.

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The challenge is not [internet] speed anymore, we have to think instead of understanding the category of people not using the internet to its full potentialAndrew Cushen, InternetNZ

This is the second year InternetNZ has asked UMR to conduct research Kiwis’ thoughts and attitudes to the internet.This year, he says, there were 750 Kiwis aged 18 years and above from across New Zealand who participated in the research.

When respondents were presented with specific concerns, the results were different.

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The research shows nearly three quarters of New Zealanders (74 per cent) are concerned about cyberbullying.

“We are spending more and more of our lives online and it’s no surprise that Kiwis are concerned about possible negative effects online bullying can have on us and our children,” says Cushen. “It’s positive to see organisations like Netsafe working hard to combat cyberbullying in New Zealand.”

The research also shows concern for fake news is up 13 per cent since last year, the largest increase in concern from the 2016 results, says Cushen.

There has been a lot more global reporting of fake news in media over the past year. This may be a contributing factor in the rise of concern here in New Zealand, he points out.

“There are high volumes of non-factual stories coming from overseas sites so it’s pleasing to see people are aware that some sites may be showing false information,” says Cushen. “We all need to take personal responsibility for what we digest and trust online.”

The survey finds New Zealanders mainly use the internet for accessing social media (up 2 per cent 2016), followed by ‘ability to learn and get information’ (up 3), and entertainment purposes (which had the largest increase this year).

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When asked what are the main benefits of the internet, 73 per cent (up 5 per cent from 2016), of respondents said access to information. A quarter thought the internet provides an easy way to communicate with others (down 1 per cent) and connect with people and communities (no change).

A greater proportion of respondents this year believed a benefit of the internet is that it saves time (9 percent, up 4 per cent from 2016).

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Going offline

“It’s encouraging to see that New Zealanders believe in the huge potential of the internet. No New Zealander should be denied access to the benefits the internet offers,” says Cushen.

Cushen says there are two predominant reasons for people not accessing the internet – they are not interested in online connectivity or face an “affordability problem”.

There is an income relationship to access to the internet as soon as household incomes are under $50,000, he states.

The research finds almost 9 in 10 (88 per cent, down 1 per cent) of New Zealanders thought the benefits of the internet outweigh the negatives.

But those in households with an income less than $50,000 were less likely to feel the benefits outweigh the negatives (79 per cent). Meanwhile, those in households with an income of over $100,000 were more likely to feel the benefits outweigh the negatives (95 per cent).

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“The challenge is not speed anymore, we have to think instead of understanding the category of people not using the internet to its full potential,” says Cushen.

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