5% experienced online bullying since pandemic began, compared to 8% pre-pandemic
42% of children had anti-cyberbullying training but 80% of children under 10 have not
Almost half of respondents experienced some degree of loneliness and feeling upset
SUBANG JAYA, 23 November 2021 - Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd (Digi) today announced the findings of its "Life Under COVID-19 for Children Online: Values & Challenges (2021)" survey which provides insights to the digital lives of youths during this pandemic.
This marks Digi's third Yellow Heart survey to uncover the experiences of young people in the areas of online safety, mental wellbeing and the cultivation of future skills. Alongside Sunway University as Digi's research partner, the survey polled 1,746 students aged below 21 nationwide from August to September 2021.
Digi's Head of Sustainability, Philip Ling, said that the findings will guide Digi's future initiatives to improve youths' digital wellbeing as digital use remains a mainstay in their lives.
"As a digital service provider, Digi has a responsibility to identify digital risks and dangers that children may be facing online and safeguard them. This survey provides opportunities to nurture future skills and curate more programmes on children capacity building in hopes of improving their digital resilience and in enabling digital inclusion," said Philip.
Survey uncovers how children are spending more time online
The survey highlighted that 71% of children had more screen time since the pandemic, with 89% of children using smartphones to go online while 36% of respondents used a laptop and only 22% used a desktop computer.
Younger respondents have reported that they spent most of their time e-learning while older children above 12 started spending more time surfing social media and video streaming platforms to feel connected to their friends and the latest trends.
Higher awareness of cyberbullying and a decrease in incidents
While 61% of the respondents agreed that cyberbullying is still a big issue faced, the survey showed that online bullying decreased slightly - 8% experienced cyberbullying before the pandemic, but only 5% said they were cyberbullied since the pandemic started. 50% from this group, reported that they faced online bullying at least once a week, mainly from social media and messaging platforms.
Only 42% of the respondents said that they received some form of guidance in protecting themselves from online bullying, mainly from parents, guardians or from school-run initiatives. Meanwhile, 80% of children under 10 reported that they have not received any form of cyberbullying protection training. This emphasises the need for greater collaboration by the government, industry, guardians, educators and parents to scale initiatives to better safeguard young children against online risks.
Mental wellbeing of children in the pandemic
While the survey reported that overall Malaysian schoolchildren appreciated the additional family time during this pandemic, negative sentiments still persist as most children miss socialising with their friends in school, especially older children and those in the East Coast and East Malaysia's rural areas.
46% of respondents were actively learning new things online through platforms such as YouTube and through online classes, though they indicated that these classes can be shorter and more productive to promote healthier physical and mental health among schoolchildren.
In addition, when asked about how they felt throughout the pandemic in general, almost half of the respondents indicated being unable to experience positivity in life, with 44% experiencing mild to extremely severe perceived depressive symptoms, as defined according to the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS).
Strengthening its commitment in enhancing children's digital wellbeing
Philip said, "The findings highlight the need for more collaborations with like-minded parties to create a more conducive, safe and healthy digital environment for our children. As we continue this advocacy, we welcome more partners to join us to maximise the positive impact for society."
Digi has been championing digital resilience and safer internet for all for the past decade through its flagship Safe Internet programme, empowering Malaysians with skills for an accelerated digital future. Other Yellow Heart efforts include a one-stop resource for safety tools and educational materials (www.safeinternet.my), and the Future Skills For All initiative which enriches the education experience for schoolchildren through the development of digitised learning modules.
For more information on Digi's Yellow Heart initiatives, visit https://www.digi.com.my/sustainability-yellow-heart.
ADDITIONAL QUOTES FROM RESULTS BRIEFING PANEL DISCUSSION
View full panel here: https://youtu.be/3sxkF-PXAgM
Dr. Ooi Pei Boon, Director of Special Projects, Chancellery Office and Associate Professor of School of Medical & Life Sciences at Sunway University
"This study showed that those who spent more screen time during COVID-19 reported 1.3 times more feeling of depression. For those who spent much more screen time, their risk of experiencing depressive symptoms goes up by 5 times. Our findings also showed that those who have been bullied online before or since COVID-19 began have experienced a higher perceived depressive symptom. Guardians can raise the conversation about online safety and work with their children to come up with solutions."
Nadiah Hanim Abdul Latif, child advocate and co-founder of OpiS International
"Children are the present and future. We need to create safe digital spaces to enable healthy digital exploration and nurture their growth. More conversations are needed between guardians, educators and children to create practical strategies to assist children to understand their digital boundaries as well as opportunities to be future ready. More importantly, we have to ensure equity so that children from marginalised communities are not left out in this journey."
Eng Zhen Shen,Form 4 student representative
"It is important for parents today to realise and understand that the internet is an integral part of youths' lives. In addition, we can utilise social media as a learning opportunity and tool to raise awareness on how we should integrate integrity into our interactions and address issues such as cyberbullying. The aim is to create a positive ripple effect that can shape this online community to be a better one. Schools can appoint digitally responsible student ambassadors as role models to cultivate peer to peer learning to make the online world a safer and better environment for everyone."
Digi is a mobile connectivity and internet services provider enabling 10.37 million Malaysians on our advanced 4G+ network. We have an ambition to provide relevant, personalised, and engaging digital products and services that will fully enable our customer's digital lifestyles. Listed on Bursa Malaysia, Digi is part of global telecommunications provider Telenor Group, and is a leader in driving responsible business practices. For more information, visit www.digi.com.my.
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