Latest research: Understanding the attitudes and motivations of adults who engage in image-based abuse

This ground breaking research focuses on perpetrators of image-based abuse and front-line workers who engage with perpetrators on a professional basis such as psychologists and law enforcement. The research is based on detailed interviews with 16 adult perpetrators and 12 front-line workers and provides unique insights into the attitudes, circumstances and motivations of image-based abuse perpetration and the visibility of this behaviour within intervention services.

Key findings include:

  • Perpetrators demonstrated little remorse and downplayed their actions through minimisation, tending to blame the victim or even deny responsibility.
  • With the exception of those involved in taking images of strangers and the taking and sharing of child exploitation images, few were aware that their behaviour was against the law.
  • There was a strong sense that on-sharing intimate images without consent was fairly commonplace and becoming somewhat normalised. Some perpetrators highlighted that they were aware of ‘numerous people’ getting away with similar actions.
  • The research also highlights the need to see more action to disrupt the normalising culture around image-based abuse.

Parenting in the digital age

This research focuses on parents’ experiences raising children in a world steeped in online activity and connection. It confirms the pivotal role parents play in keeping their children safe online and highlights their very real concerns about their capacity to deal with online safety issues. It also provides insight into how parents assess and react to their children’s experiences and the information they find most useful in guiding children through their experiences online. Data in this report is drawn from a random sample of 3,520 parents in Australia of children aged 2–17.

Key findings:

  • That both parents’ concerns about their child being online and their additional information requirements revolve around the need to maintain privacy — as well as the need to protect them from unwanted approaches from strangers.
  • Parenting approaches and attitudes vary, based on the age of the child in their care. Parents with an older child are more likely to favour a more open parenting style while parents with a younger child are more restrictive.
  • Parents display a general lack of confidence about having to deal with their child’s negative online experiences.
  • Despite its perceived importance, parents are not proactive when it comes to seeking and receiving online safety information.

Digital mentoring of older Australians

The Encouraging digital participation of older Australians through mentoring research explores ways family, friends and peers of older Australians can encourage them to increase their online engagement. Findings are based on data from online forums of 90 people aged 30 to 59 who have a family member, friend or peer aged 70 and over. This report also includes data from a national survey of young people aged 8 to 17, which examined, among other issues, young people’s roles in assisting older family members to use digital devices and the internet. Key findings include:

  • Participants overwhelmingly believed that it is important for older Australians to have better digital skills, largely for their own benefit.
  • Perceived benefits of better digital skills include access to goods and services, being able to pursue personal interests, alleviating social isolation and providing more independence and confidence.
  • The main barriers to helping older Australians gain better digital skills, as seen by mentors, were lack of time, patience, confidence and the potential logistical challenges—such as transport to venues.

Technology-faciliated abuse

Data in this report, eSafety for Women from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds, is drawn from qualitative research commissioned by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner. The research is based on information provided by 29 women from culturally and lingusitically diverse (CALD) backgrounds who had experienced technology-faciliated abuse and 20 stakeholders (such as domestic violence services) who provide support services to women. Key findings from this research:

CALD women face multiple barriers in seeking support to deal with technology-facilitated abuse, examples of which include:

  • language barriers which may contribute to CALD women not knowing what services are available to them, and create challenges for them in terms of explaining their personal experiences
  • low digital literacy, which heightens their vulnerability to technology-facilitated abuse, affects CALD women’s ability to identify that they are victims of technology-facilitated abuse, and also their ability to address the abuse once identified.

The impacts of technology-facilitated abuse on CALD women are not substantially different to the impacts experienced by non-CALD women. However, social isolation may be amplified for CALD women where fear of shaming is particularly strong.


Digital parenting

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner has commissioned a national survey of 3,520 Australian parents to better understand their attitudes and behaviours towards keeping their children safe online and digital technology usage.

The first series of research findings are presented in three interactive infographics, including:

  • Digital families—connected homes and technology usage: 99% of parents with children aged 2 to 17 have an internet connection in the home. These homes use a range of technologies including; wi-fi (88%), smart TVs (62%), smart speakers (17%) and internet-enabled home security (17%).
  • Digital parenting—supervising pre-schoolers online: 81% of parents with pre-schoolers aged 2 to 5 say their children use the internet. Of these parents, 94% report their child was already using the internet by the age of 4.
  • Digital parenting—managing screen time: 52% of parents with kids (aged 6 to 12) and 68% of parents with teens (aged 13 to 17) believe their children spend too much time online. Parents reported this was most apparent for children when playing online games, using social media and streaming TV shows. Most parents use a range of strategies to supervise their children’s online activities including talking to them about the amount of time they spend online.

Parenting and pornography

Parents play an important role in protecting their children from online risks such as exposure to pornography. Recognising this, the Office of the eSafety Commissioner in Australia, along with Netsafe in New Zealand and the Safer Internet Centre with the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom (UK) have collaborated on research that explores how parents think and engage with their children on this issue.

This report presents the findings of this joint research effort on parental attitudes to pornography and continues a program of cross-jurisdictional online safety research.

Some key findings include:

  • the risk of children’s exposure to pornography was a strong concern for parents
  • parents were relatively confident about their ability to seek out relevant information and to deal with their children’s potential exposure to pornography
  • only a minority of parents in Australia and New Zealand thought that their children had been exposed to pornography.

Understanding the digital behaviours of older Australians

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner has commissioned research into how older Australians perceive and use digital devices and the internet. This research has been undertaken to inform development of the Be Connected program to provide resources and support training to increase the confidence, skills and online safety of older Australians.

The research comprised:

  • A national survey, conducted between of 3,600 older Australians aged 50 years and over.
  • Focus groups of 26 respondents who were identified as having no to low digital literacy.

Research findings are presented in a summary report, with the full report also available.

Top level findings from this research are also presented in three infographics including:

  1. Attitudes and motivation: The majority of older Australians would like to use the internet more, however, this desire decreases with age. While the majority were interested in training to digitally up skill, there was a clear preference for face to face training. This preference was more pronounced for those with no to low digital literacy.
  2. Confidence: Older Australians who are aged 50 to 69 are significantly more engaged with the internet than their older counterparts. Those who are 70+ years old cited lack of trust, confidence, skills and personal relevance for their digital disengagement.
  3. Fear: Older Australians have fears about going online. Their fears relate to security concerns and a lack of technical skills. Close to half reported experiences related to virus, scam, credit card and personal information theft.

State of play – youth, kids and digital dangers


‘State of play—youth, kids and digital dangers’ completes the eSafety Office’s research series which examines how young people aged 8–17 in Australia deal with the challenges they face online, including:

  • managing their social media
  • contact with strangers online
  • sharing of personal information and passwords
  • dealing with negative online experiences
  • how the negative experiences of young people compared to those of Australian adults.

Top 5 negative experiences of young people include:

  • being contacted by strangers/someone they did not know, 25%
  • being left out by others, 21%
  • having mean things said about them/called names, 19%
  • receiving repeated unwanted online messages from someone, 13%
  • having lies/rumours spread about them, 13%.

State of play – youth and online gaming

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner has drawn together data from its 2017 Youth Participation Survey in the production of this report into youth and online gaming. As one of the first pieces of research on this topic in Australia, this report aims to better understand the:

  • interest among young people in Australia for online gaming and esports, and
  • the prevalence of in-game bullying and coping strategies adopted by young people being bullied while playing video games online.

Some key findings from the report:

  • Online multiplayer gaming is a very popular activity for young Australians, with 6 in 10 young people aged 8-17 having played these games.
  • Nearly 1 in 2 young people have played esport video game titles.
  • An estimated 17% of multiplayer gamers experienced in-game bullying.

Research: Image-based abuse

In 2017, the Office commissioned a range of research on image-based abuse. This research included a national survey to determine prevalence, attitudes and support needs, qualitative research with female victims and frontline workers and a study of online distribution channels. This research was undertaken to inform the development of the Office's image-based abuse portal. Related research outputs can be found here.

Research: Young people and sexting

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner (Australia), Netsafe (New Zealand) and UK Safer Internet Centre with the University of Plymouth (UK) have collaborated on research culminating in this report on young people’s experience of sending and sharing nude and nearly nude images, otherwise known as sexting. This work builds on jointly presented research by these agencies at the inaugural Online Safety on the Edge conference in Sydney on 3 November 2017 which was co-hosted by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner and Netsafe New Zealand. The purpose of this shared research is to better understand the:

  • prevalence of sending and sharing of both solicited and unsolicited nude or nearly nude images or videos, and
  • young people’s influences and motivations for this behaviour.
Young people and sexting research

Research: Social Cohesion

In collaboration with the Department of Education and Training (DET), the Office of the eSafety Commissioner has conducted research to provide an evidence base for policies and programs aimed to promote social cohesion and digital resilience amongst young people.

As part of the research, a national online survey of 2,448 young people aged 12 to 17 was conducted between 25 November and 14 December 2016. Based on this research, the Office has developed three research infographics including:

  1. Young people’s experience with online hate, bullying and violence:  57 per cent of young people have seen real violence online that disturbed them, 56 per cent have seen racist comments online and 53 per cent have seen or heard hateful comments about cultural or religious groups.
  2. Young people’s trust and confidence in online information sources:  Even though young people spend a large amount of time online, most trust information they see on TV more than information they find online. An overwhelming majority of young people source information about overseas conflicts from TV or online sources, with TV and family being the most trusted information sources.
  3. Online Relationships: Despite increasing exposure to technology at a younger age, “offline” friendships remain more important to youth, regardless of age or ethnic background, than online relationships. However, about 1 in 4 young people feel they have more freedom and confidence interacting online.

Reseach: Digital Participation

In 2016, the Office undertook a national survey of kids, teens and parents who use the internet. Parents were asked about their approach to online safety, and what information they need to support their children to be safe online. Kids aged 8 to 13 and teens aged 14 to 17 were asked detailed questions about their internet use and online practices, including how they manage their negative experiences online.

The national survey was undertaken in June 2016. It had two parts: a parent survey and a child survey. The total sample comprised 1,367 kids, 912 teens and 2,360 parents. Only one child and one parent were interviewed per household. The survey was conducted online.

Research insights: Young and social online

The Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner has released research about young people’s use of social media and their attitudes towards it. Young and Social Online includes data on the top 5 social media services used, privacy settings and personal information shared on social media by young Australians. Young people’s likes and dislikes about social media are also covered.       

Research insights: Connected kids and teens

Being online is an integral part of young people’s lives. The video explores the digital practices of teens and kids. They use a range of devices to go online. There are key differences between the online habits of teens and kids. For example, how they socialise, their online time and types of online activities.

Research insights: Teens, kids and digital dangers

This video presents the findings on kids’ and teens’ negative experiences online, particularly cyberbullying. It sets out the prevalence of specific cyberbullying behaviours, the adverse effects of negative online experiences and any action taken after the incident. It also explores the types of cyberbullying incidents witnessed by kids and teens.

Other research

Aussie teens and kids online

This research snapshot sheds light on how young people are engaging online, the devices they use and the services and activities that draw them online, providing an update to Aussie teens online released by the ACMA in July 2014.

Understanding the levels of online engagement by young people is the first step in exploring related issues such as trust and online safety, themes which will be explored in future research.
Explore Aussie teens and kids online >>

Social media and kids

Presents data on the number of young Australians accessing social media and game websites including total time spent on these sites, number of web pages of web content viewed and total number of sessions.

See our research infographic >>

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