Tackling Cyberbullying on Children with Digital Literacy

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Workshop 95

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[Read more session reports and updates from the 14th Internet Governance Forum]

$the underlying message from this session was that cyber-bullying is a global issue and that different sectors need to work together to prevent and respond to cyber-bullying against children.

Ms Xiuyun Ding (China Federation of Internet Societies - CFIS) shared on the survey CFIS had conducted on children, which revealed that 8% of children reported having been cyber-bullied, and 14% of users did not understand the risks of cyber-bullying. All this highlights the need to improve online digital literacy. Ms Chengcheng Zhao (Tencent) shared that in China, 28.89% of minors have encountered content related to violence and abuse on the Internet.

Ms Jutta Croll (Digital Opportunities Foundation Germany) highlighted that cyber-bullying has a deeper impact than offline bullying. The lack of regular interaction between parents and children has further deepened the issue, she highlighted. Ms Wenying Su (UNICEF China) shared that the initial findings of the ongoing study of UNICEF's ‘The Kids Online China’ indicate that parents of 74% of the bullied children know nothing about it.

Mr Steven Vosloo (Policy Specialist - Digital Connectivity, Policy Lab, UNICEF) reminded the group that the report by the UNICEF ‘Digital Literacy for Children - Exploring Definitions and Frameworks’ that actually defined the term ‘digital literacy of children'. The report mentions that digital literacy is rarely evaluated and that reliable data is lacking. There is a need for more research and analysis, as well as for collaboration and co-ordination. He also referred to the frameworks on digital literacy created by the Council of Europe and the DQ Institute from Singapore. Many of the digital literacy frameworks emphasise digital citizenship, teaching issues around qualities of tolerance, empathy.

On the roles played by intermediaries to prevent cyber-bullying, Zhao shared initiatives taken by Tencent for protecting digital safety of minors: launching QQ app to report violation, using AI to find trafficked children, conducting research, launching the digital health growth guidance, and network health guidebook for adolescents, and HUMIAO initiative for cybersecurity in schools. Croll warned that the inadequate use of AI may infringe the rights of children.

Ms Kamala Adhikari (Treasurer, Forum for Digital Equality, Nepal) shared the example of the website (www.childsafety.org.np) in Nepal that deals with cyber-bullying.

Mr Mengchen Gao (13-year-old student, Beijing National Day School longyue, China) stressed the need for support from teachers and parents to help children cope with the issues of cyber-bullying.

To better address the issue of cyber-bullying, Vosloo suggested learning on how real world issues are mitigated. He further recommended enhanced communication between children and their peers, parents and teachers. Su emphasised the need for more child-friendly, responsive, effective mechanisms on the online platforms and services, so that children can effectively and timely report bullying and other negative experience they have on the Internet.

By Amrita Choudhury

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