Singapore youth are exposing their location and personal data online
Half actually believe that posted content can be deleted eventually
ONE in three Singaporean teens have had experience with cyberbullying. Of this number, 61% have witnessed cyber-bullying of others, one in three have ‘cyberbullied’ others (29%); or have been cyberbullied themselves (28%).
This behaviour was perceived to result in anger or becoming less social, leading to a broader theme about how online behaviour is impacting their offline lives, security company McAfee said in a statement, citing the Singapore findings from its 2014 Teens and the Screen study: Exploring Online Privacy, Social Networking and Cyberbullying study.
The annual study examines the online behaviour and social networking habits of teens and included Singaporean youth for the first time this year, McAfee said. It highlights how risky online activity can follow youth offline and possibly make them even more susceptible to cyberbullying.
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“Parents should have an open discussion with their children so they will be better equipped to keep themselves safe online,” said David Freer (pic), McAfee vice president, Consumer, Asia Pacific.
“The experience of cyberbullying or being cyberbullied can have a deep and lasting effect on a child’s identity and life offline,” he added.
Touch Cyber Wellness, a pioneer of ‘cyber wellness’ education in Singapore, believes that it is essential for parents to understand the prevalence of cyberbullying and learn to detect early signs of it in their children.
“Victims of cyberbullying may be ashamed to take the first step in sharing about their problems with others,” said its assistant manager Chong Ee-Jay.
“Parents should stay relevant and connected to their children at all times to watch out for possible signs and deal with cyberbullying in its earlier stages.”
Touch Cyber Wellness works closely with youth, educators, and parents to promote a positive and healthy ‘cyber culture’ in homes, schools and communities in Singapore. It also provides counselling on cyber wellness issues.
Cyberbullying on the rise
For the McAfee study, the Futures Company conducted a survey among 512 young adult men and women ages 13 to 18. The survey was split evenly among age and gender. The interviews were conducted from June 25 through July 11, 2014.
Of those who responded that they were cyberbullied, the majority said that it was due to appearance and academic achievements. Compared with other countries, religion, race or sexuality plays a less significant role in Singapore (click picture on the right to download full infographic as a PDF file).
Of those who witnessed cyberbullying, 43% said the victims became defensive or angry while 57% said the victims deleted their social media accounts, underscoring its significant emotional impact.
While the study reveals cyberbullying continues to represent a serious problem for youth, the 2014 survey found 41% of youth would not know what to do if they were harassed or bullied online.
“Bystanders who witnessed cyberbullying often do not speak up as well because they do not know how to help, or they do not want to get involved due to apathy or fear that the bullies might turn their attention onto them,” said Chong.
“Bystanders and victims should feel empowered in speaking up so that cyberbullying does not become normalised. Standing up against cyberbullying should be encouraged as a new norm.”
Unfortunately, the negative experience of cyberbullying does not only exist online. Social networks are causing the majority of Singapore adolescents to experience negative situations that ultimately lead to offline arguments.
The study found that 44% of youth have been involved in an argument because of something posted on social media, and a further 13% said the original online altercation led to a physical fight.
In addition to oversharing feelings, youth also overshare what would be considered private information publicly, both intentionally and unintentionally.
Only 46% of youth have enabled the privacy settings on their social networking profiles to protect their content, and 73% do not turn off their location or GPS (global position system) services across apps, leaving their locations visible to strangers. Additionally, 34% have posted their home addresses online.
“When parents, guardians and teachers are more aware of how the youth behave online, they can better monitor instances of cyberbullying that may carry over to a child’s offline life,” said McAfee’s Freer.
“Through this, we can do more to assist young people as they go about their online activities and avoid cyberbullying from happening,” he added.
Other key findings
One in five teenagers configured their privacy settings to hide content from parents or adults.
Although 78% of youth believe their parents trust them to do what is right online, two-thirds would still change their online behaviour if they knew their parents were watching.
For many, online approval from digital peers is not only a form of social currency, it’s also a measure of acceptance, with 71% of teens wishing to receive more likes on photos of themselves and 66% feeling more important or popular when they receive likes on photos of themselves.
In fact, almost half of teens in Singapore (44%) feel more accepted online than in person. Notably, this sense of acceptance is higher in Singapore than other countries surveyed, including Australia, and the United States.
Youth fear their privacy will be compromised (29%) and fear being hacked (33%) more than they fear being unpopular (7%) or cyberbullied (7%).
34% of youth have regretted something they have posted online.
Half (51%) believe that they can eventually delete any content they choose to share – much higher than what other teens surveyed in other global countries.
Top 5 tips for parents
Connect with your kids: Casually talk to them about the risks of all online connections and make sure the communication lines are open.
Gain access: Parents should have passwords for their children’s social media accounts and passcodes to their children’s devices to have full access at any given moment.
Learn their technology: Stay one step ahead and take the time to research the various devices your kids use. You want to know more about their devices than they do.
Get social: Stay knowledgeable about the newest and latest social networks. You don’t have to create an account but it is important to understand how they work and if your kids are on them.
Reputation management: Make sure your kids are aware anything they post online does not have an expiration date.
To learn more, please visit www.mcafeecybered.com.
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