As one of the pioneers for Cyber Wellness in Malaysia, Generasi Gemilang has done surveys with students locally to find out more about their experience with cyberbullying. Our 2014 survey results showed that 27% (roughly 1 out of 4) say that they have been cyberbullied, but only 29% of them have told someone about it. In addition to that, a 2016 study conducted by Digi Telecommunications with their parent company Telenor Group found that 39% of children say that they succumb to online peer pressure such as using bad language, while 30% of children have a likelihood to send inappropriate or explicit messages online.
Cyberbullying goes unnoticed because messages can be subtle but its main intention is to provoke, ridicule & bully the victim. For physical bullying, the most immediate way of resolving the issue is to remove the victim away from the environment where the bullying is taking place. However, resolving a cyberbullying issue is tricky because it is not bound by geographical location and these hurtful messages can reach the victim as long as they log on to their social media platforms.
So how do we tackle this issue at the most basic level?
One of the key values we talk about in Cyber Wellness is how to be positive online users. This includes CONSIDERING what we use our social media for & BEING MINDFUL of what we post online.
As a former social media specialist handling brand accounts, I know the implications of posting something that's not well thought out and the consequences it can have. My colleagues and I used to cringe whenever there was a viral issue about a brand responding rudely on social media; and similarly we would rejoice when brands took their social media engagement to the next level by being personal and friendly. My role has trained me to ask myself questions of whether I should be posting something and what consequences it might have when tens of thousands of brand followers read it.
That said, you don't have to be a social media specialist to start being mindful and wanting to make that change. It's as simple as asking yourself some of these questions before you post anything:
Is this information useful to people who read my posts? Yes - Post it No - Don't post it
Will this hurt someone's feelings one way or another? No - Post it Yes - Don't post it
Is what I am about to post meant to encourage or will it put down someone? To Encourage - Post it To Put Down - Don't post it
Will sharing this information help resolve the issue at hand? (e.g. If you had a bad experience at a restaurant and the server was rude to you. Does posting this on your social media help you deal with the issue?) Yes - Post it No - Don't post it, and perhaps find other ways to deal with the issue.
Everyone uses their social media differently and there is no clear line on what's right and what's wrong. Ultimately the challenge is to ask yourself what you want to use your social media for. If you want to use it for good, post things that encourage, inspire and give people joy. If you're having a bad day and you need a way to release the negative emotions, why not talk to a good friend and let them hear you out instead of turning towards your social media? Let's all challenge ourselves to make a change.
To kickstart this, GG is doing a challenge aimed at giving others a #ReasonToSmile. We will be sharing posts aimed at inspiring and encouraging others for a week. We welcome you to join us by either:
2) Share your own inspiring and positive posts with the hashtag #ReasonToSmile