Study: Safeguarding Online Spaces


A collaboration between SHE and the Global Shapers Singapore Hub

Click on the image or this link to download the full Study

This Study was released on 8 February at SHE's Online Panel MIND YOUR CLICKS. You can read the Straits Times' report on the event here and Mothership's report here.

n September 2023, SHE released a research report which revealed that online harms were prevalent in Singapore, particularly among the younger segment of the population aged 15 to 44. The report also found that female youth were twice as likely to experience sexual harassment compared to male youth. To better understand the issues that Singapore youth face online, we partnered with the Global Shapers Singapore Hub to survey 500 Singapore youth aged 16 to 35, in order to capture a snapshot of youth experiences with and perceptions of online harms and safety.


#1: The top three online harms of concern to youth were image-based sexual abuse (IBSA), cyberbullying/harassment, and doxxing

Close to half of youth polled reported being concerned with IBSA (48 percent), cyberbullying/harassment (47 percent) and doxxing (42 percent).

Gen Zs were more concerned about IBSA (Gen Z: 54 percent, Millennials: 40 percent). Millennials were more concerned about impersonation/identity theft (Millennials: 41 percent, Gen Z: 29 percent).

Female Gen Zs were twice as likely to be concerned about IBSA than male Millennials (F Gen Z: 62 percent, M Millennial: 31 percent).

#2: Six in 10 youth (63 percent) reported being exposed to sensitive content without searching for it, and suffered sustained emotional impact from the exposure

Such content included graphic violence, nudity and sexual activity, unhealthy eating behaviour, and gender-based hateful or derogatory content.

Seven in 10 (68 percent) reported being upset after viewing the content, of which half (52 percent) reported feeling this way for at least a few hours.

#3: Youth cancel others, yet fear being cancelled themselves

Four in 10 (39 percent) had cancelled others, primarily because they felt that what the cancelled person did was wrong.

But cancelling has a clear downside. Seven in 10 (73 percent) said that the fear of being cancelled shapes their behaviour online, including by causing them to refrain from sharing personal views.

#4: Youth open to generative AI, but want clear rules of engagement

Half of youth polled (52 percent) have used AI-based tools on images.

However, focus group participants expressed the need for clear rules on what is harmful in this area, citing regulation as an important remedy. Many were aware of the misrepresentation of persons (55 percent) and the sexualisation or objectification of women (54 percent) as negative effects of AI generated or altered images.

#5: Youth lack awareness of safety tools and recourse avenues

Four in 10 (38 percent) reported low awareness of self-help tools for online harms, such as in-app reporting.

Five in 10 (49 percent) reported low awareness of legal recourse options, with females more likely to indicate this (F: 54 percent, M: 44 percent). 

The findings will inform SHE’s continued efforts to research and raise awareness on online harms and safety, and on how these affect girls and women in particular. They will also help SHE’s online harms support centre, SHECARES@SCWO, better assist those who approach the centre for help. 

Click here to download the full Study