Are kids in Singapore having bad online experiences? What constitutes a serious negative online experience? Our expert, Effendy Ibrahim answers your questions on cyberbullying among children.
As parents, most of us rely heavily on technology and the Internet to help us get things done, be it for work or to source for educational materials for our kids. Thanks (or no thanks) to this advanced lifestyle, our kids are also spending lots of time online, and at a much earlier age too. But is the Internet really a safe place for children, and what can we, as parents, do to ensure a safe online environment for our children?
Our Norton Internet Safety Advocate, Effendy Ibrahim, has answered this and more of your questions. Effendy is passionate about promoting family online safety issues. A father of four boys, he has spearheaded numerous awareness, educational and innovative programmes in the community. Apart from that, he has also been a vocal commentator on a range of topics including cyberbullying, social networking threats, Internet etiquette and safe online practices.
Question from a concerned parent: At what age are children in Singapore affected or most prone to cyberbullying? What are the figures like in Singapore?
There’s no specific age at which children are most prone to cyberbullying. However, most children today are going online at a much earlier age, thanks to the lifestyle of their parents. This puts our kids at risk of being exposed to the dangers of the online world and being a victim of cyberbullying.
According to the Norton Online Family Report, 71% of children in Singapore have had a negative online experience. Nearly half of these cases have reported to have a serious negative experience.
How do you define a serious negative online experience?
Some serious negative online experiences include:
- Cyberbullying – This happens when a child is teased, humiliated or threatened through various digital channels such as instant messaging, social networking sites, emails and blogs.
- Receiving files from unknown sources – Also known as ‘stranger danger’, kids may find themselves receiving files such as photos from strangers (mostly adults) who have ill intentions.
- Becoming victims of cybercrime – One common way this occurs is when children download malicious software to their computers without even realising it.
It is important for parents to talk to their children about the dangers lurking online, and to reassure them that they should tell their parents or teachers if they encounter any unpleasant experience while using the Internet.
So what can we do to ensure our kids have safe online experiences?
We need to work together as a community to ensure a safe online environment for our children. For this to happen, the government, private companies, teachers and parents all have an important part to play. Most importantly, your child should know that they could always come to you (or their teachers) for advice and guidance if they are facing problems online.
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