Photo - (From left) Chua Choon Hwa, Deputy Undersecretary, Policy Division, Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development Malaysia; Lars Norling, DiGi's Chief Executive Officer; Dato' Mohamed Sharil Mohamed Tarmizi, Chairman of MCMC; Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab, Chief Executive Officer of CyberSecurity Malaysia; and Dr Soon Seng Thah, Deputy Director of the Educational Technology Division, Ministry of Education.
Eighty-three  percent of Malaysian schoolchildren are vulnerable to online risks due to minimal protective actions, according to a national survey on internet safety and digital resilience of schoolchildren, which has been recently released by DiGi Telecommunications [DiGi] and its CyberSAFE in Schools programme partners.
Speaking of the findings of the 'National Survey 2014: CyberSAFE in Schools' report, DiGi's chief executive officer, Lars Norling, said, "We have moved beyond educating and creating awareness on internet safety to leverage on our reach to schoolchildren nationwide to better understand the ways they interact online."
"The data collated from the study [themed 'Safety Net: Capacity Building Among Malaysian Schoolchildren on Staying Safe Online'] has not only provided us with much needed statistics, but also valuable insights on the online behavioural patterns of young Malaysians today," said Norling.
"With mobile communications and internet easily accessible to our children, we have the responsibility to protect them from the rising number of cyber threats," he said.
Norling said the high risk factors that have been identified from the survey include:
- 40 percent of the schoolchildren do not know how to protect themselves online.
- 83 percent of schoolchildren are vulnerable to online risks due to minimal protective actions taken.
- Two-thirds of younger schoolchildren (below 13 years old) take very low protective steps (zero to three) towards online safety. However, 52 percent of these schoolchildren still believe that they are safe online.
- An average 70 percent of schoolchildren are not concerned with the invasion of their privacy or the anonymity of the person they interact with.
Myths and cyber bullying
Norling added that the report also dismissed a few commonly held beliefs:
- 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.
On cyber-bullying, he said that:
- 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 SMS-es, posting inappropriate photos, and pretending to be someone else is NOT cyber-bullying.
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