According to new research by the Avast Foundation, members of Gen Z in the U.S. don’t participate in trolling behavior as much as millennials
The Avast Foundation has conducted a study polling people across the U.S. between the ages of 16 to 55+ to understand the drivers of trolling and how activity differs across generations, locations, topics, and victims.
With the number of social media users in the U.S. increasing by 10 million from 2020 to 2021, the results point to the growing scale and complexity of internet discourse and the increasingly influential impacts of social platforms in enabling poor online behavior.
Here are some key findings from the study:
“Our findings show that trolling behavior is increasingly common among our youth with the lines between opinionated and hateful commentary blurring,” says Shane Ryan, Global Executive Director of the Avast Foundation. “Today’s young people have grown up with the internet and are absorbing the behaviors they see online and replicating them. Safe and secure access to the internet is a fundamental digital right in this day and age. Educating people on their responsibility as digital citizens goes hand in hand with empowering them to enjoy their digital freedom.”
The results reveal that American social media users are most likely to engage in bad behavior online if they have strong opinions about people in the public eye or human rights:
As the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the role social platforms play in our day-to-day lives, the findings suggest improper online behavior is becoming expected:
What’s more, over one in three (37%) respondents believe social media users are fair game when it comes to trolling, and (33%) that anyone on a social platform deserves any trolling behavior they experience
Finally, the results also highlight the differences between how United States and United Kingdom citizens behave online:
Avast Foundation is working to build a Troll Free Future and is sponsoring two studentships with the Oxford Internet Institute to build rich insights into the issue, as internet safety is very important for all. To learn more and get regular updates from the Foundation, visit the website of our philanthropic arm and subscribe to the Avast Foundation newsletter.
This research was conducted by Censuswide between August 23 – August 26, 2021, covering a national representative panel of consumers across the United Kingdom (2013 respondents) and the United States (2012). Complete data tables can be found here.
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