Telenor Group and Thailand’s Digital Economy Promotion Agency empower ASEAN to tackle cyberbullying

Partners drive first-ever ASEAN Stop Cyberbullying Workshop, laying the foundation to build a pan-ASEAN anti-cyberbullying strategy.

Published: 31 October 2019 10:00

Reading Time: 3 minutes

An estimated 500 million young people in Asia are expected to be online by the year 2021, empowered by mobile and internet technology that are becoming ubiquitous in schools and homes. Even as smartphones and social media are creating a new world of opportunities, they also pose threats and risks as cyberbullying rapidly becomes an issue across the region, especially for vulnerable groups like the youth and children.

In response to this trend, Telenor Group and Thailand’s Digital Economy Promotion Agency (depa) jointly hosted the first ASEAN Stop Cyberbullying Workshop in Bangkok today with the support of the ASEAN Secretariat. A first-of-its-kind regional initiative, the day-long forum gathered over 50 delegates from the public and private sectors, representing government, industry, international and non-profit organisations across Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), to discuss how industry and government can work together to combat cyberbullying.

Strategic focus on preventing cyberbullying

Across Southeast Asia, national visions for digitalisation rely on the population being able to safely use the internet. Thailand, as the 2019 Chair of ASEAN, recognises that promoting safe ICT use by children will set a solid foundation for the future, enabling the growth of digital societies and economies.

Partnerships between governments, businesses and international and non-profit organisations are central to this endeavour. Hence, today’s forum aimed to drive regional dialogue on making the online environment a safer place for the young, with a strategic focus on preventing cyberbullying. The outcomes of the discussion will inform the development of a pan-ASEAN strategy to incorporate online safety and cyberbullying awareness in national education curricula.

ASEAN delegates take part in first ASEAN stop-cyberbullying workshop. Pictured with Dr. Kasititorn Pooparadai, Senior Executive Vice President of depa (center), Budi Yuwono, Senior Officer, ICT and Tourism Division, ASEAN Secretariat (center left) and Telenor Group Sustainability and Public Affairs representatives.

Dr. Kasititorn Pooparadai, Senior Executive Vice President of depa, said, “Depa is mandated by law to promote the use of digital technology in a safe and efficient manner. This year, safe Internet for youths and children is one of depa’s priority agendas, so we are extremely pleased to co-host this prestigious pan-ASEAN event with Telenor Group and ASEAN Secretariat. We are committed to using the results from this workshop to guide our actions on combating cyberbullying in Thailand. We also look forward to kick-starting anti-cyberbullying initiatives with the partners and stakeholders joining the workshop today.”

Joining forces to protect children online

A global leader in the child online safety space, Telenor Group is the industry host driving today’s discussions. Undergirded by an organisation-wide commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 10 Reducing Inequalities, the ASEAN Stop Cyberbullying Workshop is also supported by Telenor’s global partners from UNICEF and Parent Zone, as well as its companies in ASEAN – digi, dtac and Telenor Myanmar.

“Increased access to mobile technologies brings about huge benefits but comes with certain risks. Vigilance and proactive measures are sometimes needed to protect vulnerable groups and help them maximise the benefits of connectivity. We believe in creating a supportive ecosystem that can address the risks and grow the digital resilience of young people. Alongside our strong partners, we believe there is a constructive role for Telenor Group to play in this area. Our aim for today’s ASEAN Stop Cyberbullying Workshop is to galvanise different stakeholder groups to promote safer use of communications services among young people, as well as support teachers, parents and caregivers to guide them in using technology responsibly,” said Elisabeth Biering, Head of Sustainability at Telenor Group.

Increasingly, resources and support are made available through region-wide partnerships between governments, NGOs, digital service providers and the telecommunications industry. Telenor’s local operators are all involved in providing educational outreach, access to toll-free helplines, access to parental controls and good reporting mechanisms as well as firm measures to prevent child sexual abuse material from being distributed through our networks.

Telenor’s global child online safety programme, “Be Smart Use Heart”, also aims to equip four million children worldwide, as well as their parents, by end 2020 with training and tools on how to cope with cyberbullying, stay safe online and keep mobile devices secure.  This commitment builds on Telenor’s existing efforts for a safer internet by scaling those aspects that have enabled the most progress, as well as deepening and broadening the curriculum.