The Press

Kiwis spending 5 hours a day online

- Tom Pullar-Strecker

The average Kiwi spends at least five hours a day on the internet but is more likely to believe social media has made the world a worse rather than better a place, according to an Auckland University of Technology study.

The poll of 3100 New Zealanders was conducted as part of a wider survey called the World Internet Project that was establishe­d by the University of Southern California in 2000.

The New Zealand research found that 62% of people reported they were able to work remotely from home for at least some of their time, up from 40% before the Covid lock-downs in 2020, with 58% taking up the opportunit­y.

Auckland University of Technology professor Gail Pacheco said the survey was large and comprehens­ive and showed Covid had significan­tly changed people’s propensity to work away from the office.

She was surprised that of those who were sometimes working remotely, 34% said they did so a few days a week. “That is probably a bit larger than I thought it was going to be.”

Only 28% of respondent­s believed social media companies had made the world a better place, with 34% saying they had made it worse and 38% undecided.

In addition, 61% believed social media companies should be more strongly regulated than they are now. That was despite the fact only 12% themselves reported being bullied or harassed online.

Pacheco said the attitudes towards social media regulation were consistent with the opinions people gave when last surveyed between July 2020 and May 2021, closer in time to the 2019 Christchur­ch mosque shootings. “I think it shows that it’s a persistent issue.”

The Department of Internal Affairs laid out big plans to regulate harmful content on social media in June.

A consultati­on document, Safer Online Services and Media Platforms, proposed businesses including Meta, YouTube and Twitter would be forced to abide by a mandatory code of conduct designed to reduce online ills. It envisaged the code would be overseen by a new independen­t regulator, which would have the power to issue fines.

However, the department has yet to publish the submission­s it received on its proposals after feedback closed in July.

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