Photo: During launch of 2017 survey, a discussion on the conundrum of cyberbullying vs resilience building.
A new effort to better understand cyber bullying has been launched in Malaysia in the form of a nationwide survey under Digi Telecommunications (Digi) DigiSAFE programme.
The aim is to uncover and better understand online bullying behaviour at secondary school level to help tighten resiliency strategies, said organisers from the DigiSAFE programme.
As cyber bullying behaviour can spread across generations and sectors including enterprise, this behaviour needs to be more rigorously addressed when it first emerges at school level.
The story of comprehensive mapping of online misbehaviour is one of the objectives of DigiSAFE's nationwide surveys, which started in 2010. During the inaugural national survey of almost 10,000 children from 460 schools, the need for more online safety guidance was emphasised
At the time, Digi's chief strategy and corporate affairs officer, Christian Thrane, said that based on the polls, 68 percent of school children have access to the internet at home. Of this, a significant number of them spend an average of eight hours a week on the internet and 68 percent used it primarily for social networking purpose.
"Beyond creating awareness, we've leveraged on our reach to students in 460 schools nationwide to better understand their usage and behavioural patterns, and knowledge of cyber safety," said Thrane.
When Malaysia's Education Blueprint set out to provide full internet access for 10,000 schools nationwide by the end of 2013, Digi, a part of the Telenor Group, repeated its call for the online safety of children.
Sizing the challenge
Speaking during Global Safer Internet Day in February 2014, Telenor Group's head of Asia operations and Digi chairman, Sigve Brekke said about 500 million children in emerging Asian markets will be accessing the internet via mobile in the next 10 years. "Within the next three years, this 'vulnerable demographic' will see 85 million children with online access, which includes Malaysian school children."
Released with digital security agency CyberSecurity Malaysia as one of the programme partners , DigiSAFE's 2014 edition of the national survey found that 83 percent of "Malaysian schoolchildren are vulnerable to online risks due to minimal protective actions."
That particular survey also cut through myths about the matter. Key findings included:
- There is no indication that children from urban areas take a higher level of protective action as compared to those in rural areas.
- It is revealed that the level of awareness does not necessarily translate to positive action. More than 40 percent of children who said that online safety is important continue to exercise low levels of online protection.
- As many as 26 percent of all schoolchildren reported that they had been bullied online, with children aged 13 to 15 being bullied the most.
- The level of online harassment is reportedly high at above 70 percent, especially for calling other children mean names, posting improper messages and inappropriate photos.
- A worrying average 64 percent of children feel that sending improper SMSes, posting inappropriate photos, and pretending to be someone else is NOT cyber-bullying.
n addition, the areas of adult intervention found that:
- 50 percent of children are unsupervised when online, with close to 40 percent claiming they are not bound by any rules on safety.
- 61 percent of the children tend to turn to their family members when encountering negative online experiences.
- Although there are 10 reporting-channel options, there are still 6 percent of schoolchildren who chose to remain silent.
- Families with computers in common areas of their home tend to exert more rules on cyber safety. However, this measure alone is insufficient, as an increasing number of children are accessing the internet on their mobile phones.
Advanced resilience strategies
Each report has helped fine tune DigiSAFE's programmes with the cooperation of various partners. An example was national online safety campaign for children with the release of public service announcement videos, which tackled three of the most common cyber risks.
Digi's CyberSAFE in Schools programme manager Philip Ling said during the release that the three most common online risks faced by schoolchildren are cyber-bullying, cyber-grooming, and cyber-stalking.
The 2017 survey again intends to draw together the largest repository of online bully behaviour among secondary schoolchildren in Malaysia including the impact and effectiveness of the actions that were taken to overcome this challenge sourced from more than 5000 secondary school students.
Main objectives include: deepening the understanding of online behavioural patterns of schoolchildren; the emotional impact on victims; and the effectiveness of the coping strategies adopted so far.
This year's study also wants to ask whether there is a need to regularly review the way "cyberbullying is mitigated, given the evolving nature of technology."
The aim is to strive for a more effective alignment between current online behaviours - and the most effective mechanisms - to deliver the right advice to children, said Digi's chief executive officer Albern Murty.
"With our partners and through our CyberSafe programme, we are helping more children to be aware and take steps towards keeping themselves safe while they enjoy the many learning opportunities that the internet provides," said Murty.
"We are fortunate to be in a country where connectivity is easily accessible for all, yet our earlier surveys has found that many children are still unaware of online risks such cyberbullying or cyber grooming," he added. "Through Digi CyberSAFE, we strive to narrow the gap by building digital resilience and nurture digital citizenship among schoolchildren in country."
Access to the survey will be made available online http://cybersafeinschools.my/kajiselidik as well as through UNICEF's uReport platform. There are also plans to tie-in with roadshows in 2018 to engage with more students and encourage them to contribute their voices to the survey.
To see other cyber safety news in Malaysia, visit:
- Children want more guidance on being safe online: Malaysia report
- Digi prioritises internet safety as 10,000 Malaysian schools go online
- 83% of Malaysian school children vulnerable to online risks: Digi report
- Digi releases online safety videos for children in Malaysia