Building Australian adults’ confidence and resilience online

This report shows that while most Australian adults are confident in their ability to use online technologies, they are less confident about how to manage specific online risks. Notably, most adults see the need for online safety information, yet few search for or receive it.
This research, exploring adults’ confidence, perception of online risks and understanding of Safety by Design is based on a survey of more than 3,700 Australian adults aged 18 to 65 years. It covers the 12-month period to August 2019.

Key findings

Perception of online risk

  • The top three perceived risks of harm online are exposure to scams or fraud (64%), being bullied or trolled online (56%) and the misuse of personal information or images (55%).  
  • The perception of online risk is greater than the rates of negative online experiences among adult Australians.

Digital confidence

  • Eight in 10 adult Australians say they have a good understanding of the negative things that can happen online (79%) and seven in 10 feel confident using online technology (72%).
  • However, adult Australians are less confident about handling issues such as how to protect their privacy online (64%), how to determine if information online is reliable (59%) or how to deal with being cyberbullied or harassed online (56%).
  • Older Australians aged 50 to 65 years are the least confident in using online technology (63%), while adults identifying as LGBTQI+ are the most confident (87%).
  • Adults identifying as LGBTQI+ and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have greater confidence in dealing with many online safety issues than other adults.

Online safety information needs

  • The top three information needs are: where to report negative online incidents (45%), protection from viruses and hacking (44%) and privacy and safety features on devices (43%).
  • Only one in 10 adults sought or received online safety information in the 12 months to August 2019.

Safety by Design

  • While 75% of adult Australians agree that technology companies have a responsibility for people’s online safety, only 23% think that these companies are doing enough to build in safety features into their services and products.
  • 73% ranked privacy as the top issue for technology companies to address. This was followed by protecting people from certain forms of content:
    • scanning user content to detect illegal or harmful content for removal (67%)
    • more effective age restrictions on content (52%)
    • automatic flagging of users’ inappropriate language and behaviour (51%).