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Thanks to teenagers, we were nicer to each other online in 2020, per Microsoft data

Internet user
Posted at 6:08 PM, Feb 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-26 07:02:57-05

According to new data released from Microsoft, teens are largely responsible for last year's increase in online positivity.

What looks like a bunch of data and statistics are actually a culmination of answers from people in 32 different countries. They were asked about their exposure to online risks.

Jacqueline Beauchere, Microsoft's global digital safety advocate, says she looks for online risks such as cyberbullying, sexual threats and damages to a person’s reputation. Beauchere’s job is to help make the internet a better place.

“Staying safer online for families for individuals, for children and to advocate those positions among government, industry and others in civil society,” Beauchere said about her goals.

What she and her team found in this year's "Digital Civility Index" is that people were more civil online in 2020. The responses came during the start of the shutdown last year, when we were all ripped from normal life.

“People have told us that they have this sense of we’re all in it together and they were sharing and sharing information with each another online or checking in with one other online,” Beauchere said.

She says, surprisingly enough, teens were responsible for the online improvement.

“I think younger people like myself are generally pretty empathetic towards people and I think that’s translated into the internet and people are trying to become positive in these negative times,” says Rees Draminski, a third-year college student was on an elite team handpicked by Microsoft to be a voice on the 2017 "Council for Digital Good."

“What really stuck out to me was, and I don’t remember the exact verbiage, but they said they wanted to have deep discussions about the intersection between humanity and technology from people who have grown up with it,” Draminski said.

Draminski and his team drafted a letter asking for "a greater need for awareness among youth." Draminski, who is aiming for a career in software development, said he loved his time on the team.

“We were able to work on our individual projects which they called safer internet manifestos where we talked about things we thought would be good if people on the internet collectively engaged in,” Draminski said.

While he's never been a victim of cyberbullying, he knows how problematic the internet can be and wants more people to report bad online behavior. As an online safety advocate, Beauchere recommends people remember the golden rule: treat others how you wish to be treated, online or otherwise, and take the civility challenge to put your online usage in check.