Fact sheet

The impact of the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown on adult New Zealanders' experiences of unwanted digital communications

COVID-19 Online abuse Online harassment Internet Disease management New Zealand

This factsheet presents findings from a study looking at the prevalence of unwanted digital communications in New Zealand during the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown.

Key findings:

  1. This study found a higher prevalence of unwanted digital communications around the time of the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown. Of those who reported receiving unwanted digital communications, 4 in 10 indicated that these experiences occurred in the last three months during and/or after lockdown, just prior to completing this survey.
  2. Some types of unwanted digital communications were more likely than others to be sent during and/or after lockdown. These involved trying to get the person receiving it to hurt themselves or shared their intimate images or recordings without their permission.
  3. There were demographic differences in the prevalence of unwanted digital communications received during and/or just after the lockdown. Males, 40-49-year-olds, adults with long-term disabilities and those identifying with non-heterosexual orientations were more likely to experience this, while Māori were least likely compared to other ethnicities.
  4. This study has implications for policy, research, and practice in relation to preparedness for supporting people through such high-impact low-frequency events, including potential future iterations of COVID-19 lockdown. This study’s findings suggest that unexpected health and social events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and compulsory lockdown, are factors that can trigger changes in people’s experiences of online risk from unwanted digital communications.
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