Malaysian schoolkids getting savvier about cybersafety: Survey
By Digital News Asia November 26, 2015
- More aware they can get help for cyberbullying from various support networks
- CyberSAFE survey conducted by Digi, with CSM and Ministry of Education
A SURVEY of schoolchildren in all states in Malaysia showed that they are gaining ‘digital resilience’ and becoming more aware of safe online practices, including what recourse they have when they become victims.
For instance, compared with a similar study conducted in 2013 – which found that one out of four schoolchildren had been victims of cyberbullying – this year’s study revealed that it is highly likely that Malaysian schoolchildren are uncomfortable about cyberbullying and are aware that such behaviour can be identified and investigated.
And although there are a few who indicated that they have received hateful mail or nasty messages, there is also a high likelihood that children know they can get help for cyberbullying from various support networks such as family, school counsellors or help centres, including the relevant authorities.
Nonetheless, there is also a high likelihood that many children will just keep quiet and hope the cyberbullying will stop, according to the second nationwide CyberSAFE in Schools study, conducted by Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd, together with CyberSecurity Malaysia and the Ministry of Education.
This strategy may be effective in ending the problem or it may also perpetuate the bullying, Digi said in a statement.
The CyberSAFE in Schools 2015 survey gathered responses from more than 18,000 schoolchildren from 216 secondary schools from all 14 states in Malaysia, over a period of seven months, the company said.
The purpose of this year’s survey was to identify schoolchildren’s experience with existing and new categories of online risk, as well as their capacity to protect and recover from these negative experiences, Digi said.
The survey results will also be able to provide an inference towards the impact of the CyberSAFE in Schools programme implemented over the past four years.
This online survey explored demographic variables such as age, gender, location of school, and frequency of use of the Internet.
It also examined their responses to several independent variables: Problematic situations and negative experience; peer pressure; parent-child gap; sexting; cyberbullying; new risks; dealing with negative experience; and mediational strategies, Digi said.
The National Survey Report 2015, themed Growing Digital Resilience among Malaysian Schoolchildren on Staying Safe Online, was launched at the annual Child Helpline Asia Pacific Regional Conference held in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 25.
At the launch, Digi’s programme manager for sustainability Philip Ling said that the fast-evolving Internet landscape has resulted in the introduction of a new generation of online trends and content, which may have a pervasive or negative influence on our children.
“As parents, it is important for us to recognise these new risks and know what preventive or mediation and mitigation strategies are available.
“It is also equally crucial to ensure that our children are empowered to be digitally resilient when encountering any of these negative online experiences,” he said.
This year’s survey results, compared with the findings from the one conducted in 2013, showed that generally, there is a positive pattern in children’s online behaviour and they are now more aware of the various categories of online risk and are able to choose different and multiple strategies to address these problems.
“The findings also revealed that children will avoid negative sites and are unlikely to engage in new risks such as accessing suicide or self-harm sites, and more importantly, exercise self-control in relation to harmful websites and know who to approach for assistance,” said Ling.
A few interesting factors have been observed from the survey, indicating that there is a high degree of digital resilience among the schoolchildren, Digi said in its statement.
On parent-child relations, many of the schoolchildren are aware of what constitutes socially acceptable behaviour on the Internet, with most following the rules set by their parents and not hiding what they are doing online from their parents.
Many will help siblings who are victims of cyberbullying or will turn to their parents whom they believe will intervene to help in these situations.
Although there appear to be a perception among Malaysian schoolchildren that their peers are addicted to the Internet, and that a number of them use inappropriate language online, the findings also revealed that it is unlikely that these children will apply peer pressure to compel others to do the same.
When it comes to problematic online situations, children are generally equipped with the right resiliency skills and are likely to address these problems with a range of solutions, Digi said.
Most are highly likely to adopt privacy settings or blocking strategies, as well as reporting the matter to teachers or relevant authorities.
Most of the schoolchildren surveyed also appear to be uncomfortable with seeing sexual images on the Internet, and they also indicated that they have never been subjected to sexual harassment on the Internet, been asked for intimate photographs or videos of themselves; or have sent such photographs or videos to someone over the Internet.
“It has been four years since CyberSecurity Malaysia partnered with Digi to scale up and extend the reach of our CyberSAFE programme,” said Lt Col Mustaffa Ahmad (Rtd), vice president of Outreach and Capacity Building at CyberSecurity Malaysia (CSM).
“Between then and now, we have carried out various outreach programmes which include awareness workshops for children, ambassador training for teachers, guidelines and survey findings for families, providing support networks as well as developing an online safety learning portal.
“We are indeed pleased to learn from this year’s survey that the CyberSAFE in Schools programme have now started to show great progress, with a significant number of schoolchildren having strengthened their cybersecurity awareness and know how to protect themselves online,” he added.
However, there are still some areas of concerns that need to be looked at closely, Digi said:
- There are quite a number of schoolchildren who are considered by the own peers to be addicted to the Internet;
- There also appears to be a strong correlation between peer pressure and cyberbullying. Respondents who rated high in experiencing with peer pressure did the same for cyberbullying;
- Inappropriate language is being widely used during online interactions;
- Parents giving more access to the Internet as a way to reward their children;
- If children are bullied on the Internet, there is a likelihood that they will keep quiet and hope the bullying will eventually stop.
For the full report, go to www.digi.com.my/digicybersafe or www.safeinternet.my.
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