Cyberbullying among Children and Youths in Taiwan- 2016
The prevalence of internet and smart phones has made children and youths’ everyday life inseparable from such technology. Through a diverse range of channels, children can easily make friends, play games and express opinions on the internet almost anywhere and anytime. Yet, in a world with little regulations and where people can remain anonymous, when provoking messages are spread instantly, children can easily become involved in cyberbullying if not staying cautious. In recent years, high-profile cyberbullying cases have taken place both in Taiwan and across the globe. Many young lives were taken or harmed because of it. It is an issue that attention must be paid to.
CWLF has conducted a randomized study in December 2015 by sending out questionnaires to primary, junior and senior high schools all over Taiwan to better understand the current state of cyberbullying among children and teenagers. According to the statistics, around 74.1% of the participants believe cyberbullying is a serious issue, and over 76% have seen it happened or experienced it personally before. Social media site such as Facebook, Twitter and Weibo is identified as the top place where cyberbullying commonly takes place (93.2%), followed by communication applications such as LINE, What’s App and WeChat (48.0%). According to those who have seen or experienced cyberbullying, the most common incidents of cyberbullying are known to be verbal attack (61.1%), hacking into other’s account to post messages (47.9%), defaming (47.7%), alienating someone by deleting or blocking them on the friend list (46.1%), and making others’ private information public (40.9%).
The survey then reveals that over half (53.5%) of the children and teens were bullied by their friends. The CEO Li-Ju Chen stressed that although most children are bullied in cyber space, the act of bullying may possibly be an extension of the real world. To children, it is not something resolvable by ignoring it or not going online. Parents are advised to care about their children’s school life and social network to provide support promptly. Upon further investigation, only 43% of the victims actively sought help. These include contacting the site manager (24.7%), talking to teachers (25.4%) or seeking professional help (11.5%). The reasons for not seeking help could be that the child thinks he is unable to receive any help. 29.8% think asking for help is futile as the bullying just continues. 20.6% believe that seeking help has aggravated the situation, and as many as 42% had decided to retaliate.
Children who support the act of cyberbullying may have done it unintentionally because of their limited knowledge of how the internet works. As users can remain anonymous in the cyber world, offenders and supporters often share messages without thinking twice. 10.3% believe that they are untraceable as long as they do not reveal their personal information. 13.3% think that even if they share a post on the internet, they can remove it anytime if they regret sharing it. Recent years, several anonymous fan pages for people to post malicious comments have gained popularity not only among adults but children also. 86% of the children have seen such fan pages or something similar, and 24% have followed the pages or share the posts.
Cyberbullying can be prevented with more supervision. While parents and teachers are advised to educate children on cyber etiquettes, including showing respect to people even when remaining anonymous, CWLF is also keen to see social media sites and online gaming sites having user-friendly complaints resolution pathway in place to prevent harmful act from repeating.