Digi Releases Second Nationwide Online Safety Survey Report

Press Release
November 24, 2015


For immediate publication

Digi Releases Second Nationwide Online Safety Survey Report

  • Report shows encouraging development in cyber safety awareness and growing digital resiliency among school children
  • The largest national survey on online safety to date, with participation of more than  18,000 Malaysian school children

KUALA LUMPUR, 25 November, 2015 - Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd ("Digi"), together with CyberSecurity Malaysia and the Ministry of Education today released the results of the second nationwide CyberSAFE™ in Schools 2015 Survey.  The National Survey Report 2015, themed Growing Digital Resilience among Malaysian School children on Staying Safe Online, was launched at the annual Child Helpline Asia Pacific Regional Conference held in Kuala Lumpur.

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 7 months. The purpose of this year's survey was to identify school children's experience with existing and new categories of online risk as well as their capacity to protect and recover from these negative experiences. 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 (PSNE), peer pressure (PP), parent-child gap (PCG), sexting (SXG), cyberbullying (CYB), new risks (NR) as well as dealing with negative experience / mediational strategies (NEMS).

At the launch, Philip Ling, Digi's Programme Manager for Sustainability 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."

"We are encouraged with the findings from this year's survey results as compared to the findings from the one conducted in 2013. It is discovered that generally, there is a positive pattern in children's online behavior 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. Findings also revealed that the 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. This is a testament to the positive impact of our consistent efforts to educate the school children. As part of our Empower Societies initiatives, Digi is dedicated in our efforts to continuously nurture a safer internet environment for Malaysian children through building digital resilience and fostering responsible digital citizenship among them," he further explained.

"It has been 4 years since CyberSecurity Malaysia partnered with Digi to scale up and extend the reach of our CyberSAFE programme, in our efforts to elevate awareness on cyber safety and privacy to Malaysians especially the school children. Between then and now, we have carried out various outreach programmes which include awareness workshops for children, ambassador training for teachers, coming up with guidelines & survey findings for families, providing support network as well as developing an online safety learning portal, to counter the increasing cyber security related incidents and ensure that our schoolchildren are adequately protected against the possible dangers on the net," said Lt. Col. Mustaffa Ahmad (Retired), Vice President of Outreach and Capacity Building, CyberSecurity Malaysia.

"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 school children who have strengthened their cyber security awareness and know how to protect themselves online. This is a good example of an effective partnership with a private sector and we will continue to champion this critical issue and hope that we will help to reduce, if not eradicate the various cyber threats," he added.

Key Findings

A few interesting factors have been observed from the survey, indicating that there is a high degree of digital resilience among the school children:

The results of this survey show that internet usage by school children in all states in Malaysia is high above 90 percentile.

In the areas of Parent-Child Relations:

  • Many of the schoolchildren are aware of the socially acceptable behaviors on the internet
  • Indicates positive influence of family values on their use of the internet
  • Following the rules set by parents
  • Not hide what they are doing online from their parents
  • Many will help siblings who are cyber-bullied or turn to their parents whom they believe will intervene to help in these situations.

Influence of and perception of friends:

  • 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 on the internet, the findings also revealed that it is unlikely that these children will apply peer pressure compelling others to do the same.

On Cyber-bullying:

  • In the area of cyber-bullying, comparatively to the earlier study conducted in 2013, which found that one out of four schoolchildren has been cyber-bullied, the new study revealed that it is highly likely that Malaysian schoolchildren are uncomfortable about cyber-bullying and are aware that such behaviours can be identified and investigated.
  • 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 cyber-bullying from various support networks such as family, school counsellors or a help centre including the relevant authorities.
  • Nonetheless, there is also a high likelihood that many children will just keep quiet and hope the cyber-bullying will stop. This strategy may be effective in ending the problem or it may also perpetuate the bullying.

On Reaction to Negative Experience:

  • 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
  • Most children are highly likely to adopt privacy setting or blocking strategies as well as the channels to report to teachers or relevant authorities.
  • In the area of preparedness, generally, it is found that children's ability to mediate problematic situations was rated much higher than the occurrence of such situations.

On Sexual experience:

  • Most of school children appear to be uncomfortable with seeing sexual images on the internet and they have also indicated that they have never been subjected to sexual harassment on the internet; or have been asked for intimate photographs or videos of themselves; or have sent such photographs or videos to someone over the internet.
  • It is also revealed that Malaysian children rated experiences with sexting the lowest among other problematic areas such as cyber-bullying, peer pressure and new categories of online risks.

On New risks:

  • In terms of new online risks that is getting more prevalent in the West, such as hate sites, self-harm sites, drug sites, suicide sites, findings reveals that it is highly unlikely that Malaysian schoolchildren have visited or have been exposed to such risks, or that they have responded poorly to such problematic situations. Nonetheless, the highest response among the new categories of new risks was for accessing pro-anorexic sites on the internet.

However, there are still some areas of concerns that need to be look at closely:

  • 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 cyber-bullying. Respondents who rated high to experience with peer pressure did the same to cyber-bullying.
  • Inappropriate languages are being widely used during online interactions.
  • Parents giving more access to the internet as a form of reward to 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.

Insights derived from the study also share several recommendations in addressing the concerns faced by schoolchildren and their online experience. Measures for consideration includes the implementation of a dedicated policy and a structured curriculum on child online protection in schools to further safeguard and build resilience among children. Parents and educators should be advocators of good digital citizenship but it should also be instilled in the schoolchildren themselves that it is their responsibility to build their own digital resilience.

The CyberSAFE™ in Schools Programme is a joint initiative carried out together with CyberSecurity Malaysia, Childline Malaysia and the Ministry of Education. The programme seeks to drive awareness and empower students as well as teachers with digital resilience skills to stay safe on the internet. In addition, it also engages teachers and parents to help children learn about safe online practices and positive Digital citizenship.

For the full report, please visit www.digi.com.my/digicybersafe  and https://safeinternet.my/.