Survey reveals that one in three Malaysian kids have been bullied online

According to a new Global Youth Online Behavior Survey released by Microsoft Corp., 33 percent of Malaysian children say they have been subjected to a range of online activities that some may consider to be online bullying. The study, which covered 7,600 children from age eight to 17, focused on how kids treated one another online and whether parents were addressing online behaviors. It was conducted from 11 January to 19 February 2012 in 25 countries including Malaysia.

[L to R – Dr. Nurulwafa, Zuhairah Ali, Tunku Munawirah, Jasmine Begum, Datin Noor Azimah, Dr. Abdul Kadir]

In Malaysia, the survey further revealed that 38 percent of Malaysian respondents are very or somewhat worried about online bullying while only 27 percent of parents talked about online risks with their children.

Globally, the findings continued to be worrisome with more than half (54 percent) of children globally worry about being bullied online. It was also found that:

  • Four in 10 children surveyed (ages eight to 17) say they have experienced what adults might consider as online bullying.
  • 24 percent of children surveyed say they have done something parents would consider as online bullying.
  • Five percent of parents engage with their children’s school about online bullying, according to the children surveyed.

“Online bullying is a real challenge and a serious issue globally, and Malaysia is not exempted from this fact,” said Jasmine Begum, Director of Corporate Affairs, Malaysia and New Markets, Microsoft Malaysia.

“At Microsoft, our approach to online safety fosters digital citizenship by advocating digital literacy, ethics, and etiquette. We empower parents, caregivers, and educators with the right tools and resources to help them talk to kids about online safety,” added Begum.

Another insight that the Malaysian survey uncovered is that children want to talk to parents about the issue, but only 27 percent of parents have talked to their kids about protecting themselves online. Additionally, according to the youth who were surveyed in Malaysia, only four percent of schools they attend have formal policies that address online bullying. Datin Noor Azimah, president of the Parents Action Group for Education (PAGE) highlighted her concern on the lack of formal policies by noting that kids nowadays are exposed to technology at a very young age.

“This may precipitate a technological gap where parents and educators cannot fill, without proper training. Including formal school policies on online bullying may help fill this gap, and at the same time, provide an avenue for parents, teachers and children to understand and curb online bullying,” said Noor Azimah.

The Malaysian survey also revealed that only 18 percent of parents teach their kids online manners (significantly below the 25 country average of 39 percent), and only 13 percent of parents ask their kids if they’ve been bullied online (as compared to 30 percent from the 25 country average).

“Children need an avenue to discuss distressing issues like online bullying to an authority figure. They need to feel safe and reassured when faced with mentally exhausting situations like these,” said Dr. Abdul Kadir Abu Bakar, president of Malaysian Psychiatric Association (MPA).

“When avenues like these are unavailable, children may take matters into their own hands and with inexperience, handle the situation inappropriately, which can lead to many psychological and mental problems in the future. It is therefore imperative that parents embark on a more proactive role in monitoring their children’s behavior, especially online,” added Abdul Kadir.

With regards to Malaysian parents paying attention to their children’s computer activity, the Malaysian survey showed that only 30 percent of parents monitor their kid’s use of the computer (compared to 44 percent for the 25 country average).

“Unmonitored Internet use may place adolescents at significant risk such as online bullying, unwanted exposure to pornography, and potentially revealing personal information to sexual predators. Parental supervision is a key protective factor against adolescent risk-taking behavior,” said Tunku Munawirah Putra, Honorary Secretary of Parents Action Group for Education (PAGE).

In conjunction with the survey results, Microsoft is also releasing two additional resources:

  • Stand Up To Online Bullying Quiz. This interactive online quiz can be easily downloaded onto an organization’s or school’s website as a teaching tool. It is designed to walk adults through a series of scenarios in which, upon answering, the quiz delivers immediate guidance on how to talk about, identify and respond to the range of online behaviors from online meanness to bullying and beyond. (
  • Digital Citizenship in Action Toolkit. Kids mirror adult behavior — the good, the bad and the ugly. This interactive educational guide helps teach users how to foster responsible use of technology in today’s digital world. (

Teaching kids to be good “digital citizens” is one way to drive positive “upstander” behavior and instill strong ethics and online etiquette. Microsoft also partners with organizations like iKeepSafe, iLookBothWays and the Anti-Defamation League to provide professional development for teachers and school staff with courses in online bullying.

The survey was conducted online and in person by youth. Adults were allowed to help their children answer questions if necessary. Field work and data processing was performed by Synovate.

The full Global Youth Online Behavior Survey report, along with the complete list of individual executive summaries for each country, is available over here.

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