Asia’s parents speak up on cyberbullying

Last week, Telenor Group ran an Asia-wide social media survey asking parents about their kids’ experiences with cyber bullying. Today on Safer Internet Day, we are releasing its results… many of which point toward interesting potential trends.

Written: Feb 2017

Three hundred and twenty people from all six Asia markets and Singapore chimed in our temperature check of parents’ perspectives on cyberbullying last week. The survey found that while cyberbullying is still common, respondents say they are discussing cyberbullying with youth more and feel that resilience is being built. The survey targeted parents on Facebook with interests in parenting, family issues, child welfare and online security.

“We conducted this survey to keep on the pulse of digital bullying, to see how it affects children in Asia, and we can do about it,” says Zainab Hussain Siddiqui, Director, Social Responsibility, Telenor Group. “Across Asia, we drive examples of awareness-building efforts reaching scores of children, parents and school teachers. And we hope this is leading to more resilience against online mistreatment.”

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First: Parents say they do talk to their children about cyberbullying

As with nearly everything touchy topic, open dialogue with kids is the first step in helping them be prepared for it. In this case, it’s the how, why and on what channels online bullying can happen – and how to manage and report it. But, one of the first findings of this survey sheds a positive light on the situation. Nearly half of the respondents (46%) say that they speak to their children ‘all the time’ about internet and online behavior, followed by 39% who discussed this ‘sometimes.’ Only 12% said they had never spoken about this topic. A large segment of Asian adults feel empowered and aware enough to address online safety with youth.

The most reported type of cyberbullying?

‘Being the target of hostile and rude comments and profanity online’ was the most common form of cyberbullying incidents that respondents’ children had experienced (22.5% of respondents). The next largest group said they ‘did not know’ if any of the listed cyberbullying incidents had occurred to their child. The third largest group said their children had not experienced cyberbullying as they have been ‘trained how to respond and defend themselves’ against this type of activity.

After-effects of cyberbullying vary

When asked how cyberbullying experiences affected the child, the answer was multi-layered with some surprises. They implied that Asia’s children are learning how to deal with bullying online, or actively were able to ignore the attacks with no effect on them. While 29% of respondents said that being cyberbullied affected the child negatively and they were ‘depressed’ for a time period, 24% said that the situation made the child more alert and able to defend themselves online. A further 24% said the child did not seem to be affected, with 7% even saying the online bullying ‘inspired the child to then help other victims.’

Cyberbullying and online gaming

Respondents with children who play online games reported a higher rate of cyberbullying attacks than those whose kids engage in only standard browsing activities. Of those surveyed, 79% said their child or a child that they know has been threatened with physical harm while playing online games specifically on websites or on social media. This was followed by 41% who said the child was the target of offensive comments including name calling, racist or sexist remarks.

Website and social network savviness needs to improve, say parents

The reportedly most important online safety topic for children was to make sure that they know which websites or social networks are safe – or which should be kept out of bounds (27% of respondents). This was followed closely by education about sharing personal information online (26%), and knowing that people post anonymously online without repercussions (25%).

Find out more about Telenor’s Safe Internet projects here.