Study demonstrates importance of understanding online behavior of students
(Bangkok) 9 February 2016 – The growth of internet access across Asia is bringing a wealth of new opportunities to youth in the region, particularly around the access to educational content. Yet, new access comes hand-in-hand with the challenge of keeping children safe online and the importance of protecting them from online threats. To better understand online behaviors, Telenor Group today released the results of its Safe Internet study, which examined internet safety knowledge among 1,896 students in Bangladesh, aged between 12 – 18 years, with respondents concentrated in key cities.
“As a leader in mobile telecommunications, Telenor is dedicated to increasing internet safety for all, with a particular emphasis on young students,” said Ola Jo Tandre, Head of Social Responsibility, Telenor Group. “Telenor hopes the findings from this country-specific study will emphasize the importance of positive parent and teacher guidance for children using the internet, as well as to inspire increased digital resilience through regular conversations and advice to their children,”
Telenor’s Safe Internet study analyzed school student’s responses to various internet-related threats, such as cyberbullying and peer pressure, in order to understand the factors influencing behavior patterns and to develop solutions towards making the web a safer environment.
With regular access to social networks, children are becoming more exposed to peer pressures, such as being encouraged to visit unsuitable websites or use bad language online. Amongst the pupils surveyed, 49% of students in Bangladesh said they succumbed to at least one form of peer pressure.
The study also reviewed the state of cyberbullying, one of the more heavily discussed topics and often one of the biggest concerns for parents in regards to children accessing the internet. The study findings 49% of school students in Bangladesh have experienced either ‘being bullied or disturbed online’ or ‘being bullied by the same person both online and offline’ or they have actually engaged in the act of bullying others online per the anonymity of the internet.
Many children do not understand the serious effect online words may have on a peer. In fact, a 2014 study in Malaysia revealed two-thirds of children feel that sending offensive SMS-es, pretending to be someone else online or posting inappropriate photos does not qualify as cyberbullying. In 2009, Telenor Norway created a national program, designed to teach children, teachers and parents how to prevent cyberbullying. The program helped prove education is key to reducing cyberbullying, as three out of every four children who took part in the initiative stated they were now equipped with the knowledge to avoid bullying online.
Dealing with a negative experience
With students encountering cyberbullying and online peer pressure relatively frequently, they were then asked about their ability to tackle these negative experiences. 60% of school pupils in Bangladesh said they felt capable of resolving such issues, whether alone or by consulting parents and teachers.
By comparison, 7% more students in neighboring Malaysia felt equipped to deal with negative experiences online. Although the difference is miniscule, this could be due to consistent efforts to increase internet safety awareness among Malaysian school students, including DiGi’s CyberSAFE programme.
Of the new risks associated with access to the internet, including websites promoting drugs, weapons, self-harm, suicide and hate, school pupils in general felt that these pose little threat. Most students indicated that they avoid these types of sites.
The study also revealed that 61% of the students in Bangladesh stated that they would not send explicit messages, also known as ‘sexting’.
Help from parents and schools
This inaugural country-wide study also demonstrated that less than half of the school students chose to confide in parents and teachers when faced with online issues that they do not know how to solve alone; only 38% of the surveyed pupils in Bangladesh said they were likely to approach their parents, in comparison to 55% of school pupils in Thailand. By frequently consulting with parents, students can better navigate the challenges of interactions online.
It is important for parents to create an open dialogue with their children and ensure they feel comfortable to seek help from their parents should they encounter inappropriate online behavior. Whilst making children aware of the ways in which the internet can be misused, parents have the opportunity to equally discuss the benefits of the internet with their children, such as networking, education and entertainment.
“Since both teachers and parents play an important role in supporting students to use the internet safely, closer collaboration between schools and families can lead to a more holistic approach. Although the study findings suggest students in the region generally behave well online, schools and parents should continue to monitor internet usage and educate students on how to behave in the ever-evolving cyber world,” added Tandre.
For more information on how we can make the internet a safer environment for children, Telenor Group provides a Parent Guide: How to talk to your children about the internet.