Do you know about Microsoft’s Digital civility pledge to help create a safer, more civil Internet?

How aware are you of Internet safety? Do you know about Microsoft’s Digital Civility pledge which formed part of the recent Safer Internet Day. On the recent Safer Internet Day:, 7th February, organizations and people around the world committed to promoting safer and more responsible online use of technology especially concerning young people and children. Here is a map from the website showing all the activities around the world to celebrate Safer Internet Day

Will you take the Digital Challenge?

Microsoft took the opportunity to introduce the term ‘digital civility’ – a plea to people around the world to treat each other with respect online. Microsoft has a long-standing commitment to online safety and urged Internet users to take the Digital Civility Challenge. The goal of the Challenge is to raise awareness about the need for “digital civility” and to pledge to every day live up to the four Digital Civility Challenge ideals:

  • Live the Golden Rule. I will act with empathy, compassion and kindness in every interaction, and treat everyone I connect with online with dignity and respect. 
  • Respect differences. I will appreciate cultural differences and honor diverse perspectives. When I disagree, I will engage thoughtfully and avoid name calling and personal attacks.
  • Pause before replying. I will pause and think before responding to things I disagree with. I will not post or send anything that could hurt someone else, damage my reputation, or threaten my safety or the safety of others. 
  • Stand up for myself and others. I will tell someone if I feel unsafe, offer support to those who are targets of online abuse or cruelty, report activity that threatens anyone’s safety, and preserve evidence of inappropriate or unsafe behaviour.

Angela Shearer from Microsoft says, “The road to change starts at home, at school and in the office. We are asking all internet users to pledge their digital civility on social media using the hashtags #challenge4civility and #Im4digitalcivility.” ( see )

How does South Africa fare when it comes to ‘digital civility’?

in 2016 Microsoft undertook research in 14 countries among teenagers and adults to study the level of civility. South Africa ranked in 14th place in the Digital Civility Index, making it the country with the highest online risk exposure and lowest degree of Digital Civility out of all the nations surveyed including Australia, Germany, India, France, the UK and US.  The survey polled teens (ages 13-17) and adults (18-74), asking about their experiences and encounters with 17 different online risks across four categories, namely behavioural, reputational, sexual and personal/intrusive. (see )

 South Africa not doing well on the Digital Civility Index 

Contributing to this poor result is the fact that 78% of participants surveyed reported having been exposed to an online risk, which exceeds the international averages for both Intrusive and behavioural risks. Moreover, South Africans encountered reputational risks more often than international (22% vs. 18%) and this is led by doxing (14%) and damage to personal reputation (11%). Doxing is the practice or researching and then broadcasting private information about someone online.

Over seven in ten South Africans reported a consequence from exposure to an online risk. This was slightly higher than the international average. In general, the top ten consequences were experienced at the same or higher levels in South Africa compared to international.

As a result people become less trusting of others.

Whose responsibility is Digital Civility?

Angela Schaerer Teacher Engagement Lead for Microsoft South Africa was quoted on IT News. She believes that Digital Civility is everyone’s responsibility. South Africans need to be accountable for their online behaviour and to serve as role models and/or champions for others.  “a time to take stock of online habits and practices to ensure we’re putting our best digital foot forward and in doing so it will make it easier to establish and help foster safe as well as inclusive interactions online.”  

(see )

Get trained on the Microsoft Educator Community

Microsoft offers so many free, online courses on relevant topics.  Teachers, take a look at this one on Digital Citizenship on the Microsoft Educator Community: 

Summary of resources from Microsoft and others that will be of great help

Remember to diarise Safer Internet Day on Tuesday Feb 6th in 2018

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