Harmful Digital Communications in New Zealand: Annual Population Survey 2017

49 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2018

See all articles by Edgar Pacheco

Edgar Pacheco

Victoria University of Wellington

Neil Melhuish

Netsafe, New Zealand

Date Written: 2018


While new technologies offer a number of benefits and opportunities, their use is accompanied by challenges and potential risks. This includes the different forms of abuse and intimidation that the Act seeks to address. As part of its functions as the Approved Agency, Netsafe has conducted the first in a series of Annual Population Surveys (APS). The objective of the APS is to gauge attitudes and behaviours and to start monitoring national trends regarding potentially harmful digital communications in Aotearoa-New Zealand. This report presents the main findings of the 2017 APS. The APS is the first nationally representative study that looks at adult New Zealanders and digital communications in the context of the Act. Key aspects of the Act - such as the communication principles - and key internet safety concepts have informed the development of the research instrument and the analysis of its findings.

The study was planned and administered by Netsafe between February and September 2017. An online survey was conducted with a representative sample of 1,018 adult New Zealanders (aged 18 ) between 30 May and 30 June 2017. Data collection was conducted by Colmar Brunton. The maximum margin of error for the whole population is ±3.1% at the 95% confidence level.

The study provides insights regarding New Zealanders’ access to and use of digital technologies. It also explores people’s level of awareness of the Act. A key focus of the study is to measure participants’ experiences of digital communications, including perceptions and experiences of harm and distress in the last 12 months. Finally, the study presents relevant insights regarding New Zealanders’ personal responses, and access to services and resources to deal with unwanted digital communications as well as potential harm and distress.

As research on adult New Zealanders and their experiences with digital communications is limited, the APS provides first-hand research evidence on this subject to government agencies, online content and service providers, law enforcement, the research community, and the general public. However, considering the evolving nature of new technologies and how people engage with digital tools, new online challenges and risks are likely to emerge. Thus, the study of the nature and impact of digital communications, including potential harm and distress, will remain a relevant but challenging area of research, analysis, and policy intervention.

Keywords: digital communication, internet, social media, cyberbullying, online harrassment

Suggested Citation

Pacheco, Edgar and Melhuish, Neil, Harmful Digital Communications in New Zealand: Annual Population Survey 2017 (2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3128121 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3128121

Edgar Pacheco (Contact Author)

Victoria University of Wellington ( email )

P.O. Box 600
Wellington, 6140
New Zealand

HOME PAGE: http://https://edgpacheco.weebly.com/

Neil Melhuish

Netsafe, New Zealand ( email )

PO Box 124
Shortland St
Auckland, 1140
New Zealand

HOME PAGE: http://netsafe.org.nz

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