IGF 2019 WS #95 Tackling Cyberbullying on Children with Digital Literacy

Organizer 1: Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Organizer 2: Intergovernmental Organization, Asia-Pacific Group

Speaker 1: Kamala Adhikari, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Jutta Croll, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Cynthia McCaffrey, Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Xiaolei Tang, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 5: MENGCHEN GAO, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Policy Question(s): 

1) Why cyberbullying is essential to be taken seriously by international community and what is the bottleneck to solve this problem?
2) Who/ which stakeholder is primarily responsible for protecting children from cyberbullying?
3) To what extent can digital literacy education increase the capacity of resilience and self-protection of children from cyberbullying?
4) What are the role of each stakeholder, including parents, educators, governments, law enforcement, civil society, private sector and children themselves, in improving children’s digital literacy, and how can they cooperate with each other?
5) Why it is crucial to involve the perspective of children and their right in solving this problem and what unique contribution could be made by children?
6) Prevention and cure, which is more important in protecting children from cyberbullying? How to balance the preventive measures with the right of children to use internet and freedom of speech?

Relevance to Theme: The rapid proliferation of information and communications technology (ICT) is an unstoppable force changing the world order and shaping everyday life. Childhood is no exception, representing a generation that grows up online. Over 40 per cent of the young people polled began using the Internet before they were 13-years-old. The report by UNICEF also indicates the time online of connected children and way of using are becoming longer and more mobile. Social entertainment and learning, information and exploration and civic engagement and creativity are the main online practices of children. Moreover, the Internet has become a fixture of young people’s lives regardless of income level. According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), while 94 per cent of young people aged 15-24 in developed countries are online, more than 65 per cent of young people in developing countries are online.

On the other hand, this online proliferation comes with increased risk, particularly for children, who are more impressionable, emotional and more vulnerable to online violence than adults are, for example, to suffer social and academic loss. Digital connectivity has made children more accessible through unprotected social media profiles and online game forums. The dangers posed by online violence, cyberbullying and digital harassment affect 70.6 per cent of young people aged 15 to 24 years old who are online globally. Cyberbullying can cause profound harm as it can quickly reach a wide audience, and can remain accessible online indefinitely, virtually ‘following’ its victims online for life, forming a continuum of damaging behavior. Victims of cyberbullying are more likely to use alcohol and drugs, to experience in-person bullying, to receive poor grades and to experience low self-esteem and health problems. In extreme situations, cyberbullying has led to suicide. However, evidence from UNESCO’s study shows that 62% of interviewed digital users did not know or were unsure about where to find help when cyberbullied. Consequently, it is urgent and necessary for international society to tackle and prevent violence against children and adolescents online.

Whereas in the offline world, children being bullied could escape such abuse or harassment by going home or being alone, no such safe haven exists for children in a digital world. Online bullying is carried and spread widely by mobile devices and social media. It also allows perpetrators to remain anonymous, thus reduces their risk of identification and prosecution, but has tangible repercussions in a single click, instantly disseminate violent, hurtful or humiliating words or images without legal consequence. Therefore, cyberbullying can hardly be prevented from the source, the offenders, or be intervened in the transmission media. The key to solve the problem is to minimize the harms and effect of bullies on young victims by improving their capability to protect, adapt and become resilient, so that to develop children’s digital literacy, which indicates here having the skills to access, understand, question, critically analyze, evaluate and create media.

Furthermore, cyberbullying undermines the full achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 on quality education, Goal 3 on good health and well-being and Goal 16 on peaceful and inclusive societies. Traditional bullying and online bullying are closely connected, both denying equal access to education and acting against the provision of safe, non-violent and inclusive learning environments for all children and adolescents (SDG 4 target 4.a). It could also increase the likelihood of narcotic drug abuse, harmful use of alcohol and the risk of mental health problems (SDG 3 target 3.4&5). In addition, cyberbullying is a kind of violence against children, which could undermine social order and security (SDG 16 target 2).

To sum-up, in order to build a healthy and positive digital environment beneficial to children, the workshop seeks to examine to what extent cyberbullying can be tackled and intervened through children’s digital literacy, and how to improve their digital literacy.

Relevance to Internet Governance: If we decompose and analyze the occurrence process of cyberbullying, it contains three main elements, which are the source of bullies, so-called perpetrator or offender, the transmission media and the victim. Firstly, the potential for bullies hides behind a nameless profile disseminating violent, hurtful or humiliating words or images online. It also allows offenders to be anonymous, reducing their risk of identification and prosecution, expanding their networks, increasing profits and pursue many victims at once. Considering the measures to prevent cyberbullying from it source, it could lead to contradiction with other problems, like freedom of speech. Offenders might come from all kinds of age groups, regions and backgrounds. Therefore, cyberbullying can hardly be prevented or controlled from the source. Even though, raising the awareness of spiteful speech and remark, improving digital literacy, and building a well-ordered international cyberspace are always important.

Secondly, concerning the transmission media of cyberbullying, digital connectivity has made children more accessible through unprotected social media profiles and online game forums. Moreover, once bullying content is posted, deleting it is difficult, which increases the risk of victims being revictimized and makes it hard for them to recover. Although technology tools like Big Data and AI could be applied to filter and intercept some of the bullying words, the spreading ability of social media and the high cost lead the feasibility and effectiveness of these technology tools to be questionable.

The breakthrough point of this problem thus concentrates on the victim, to minimize the harms and effect of bullies on young victims by improving the capability to protect, adapt and become resilient themselves. Children who are digital literate are more aware of the way media content is made, where it comes from and what its purpose is, and more confident about voicing their opinions about media. They’re also safer online and less likely to be manipulated by the media.

In order to improve children’s digital literacy, it is important to promote the engagement and cooperation among all stakeholders in this issue, involving children themselves. Parents, as the guardian of the child, are responsible to talk to their children about online safety, make sure children understand online risks and what to do if they find themselves in trouble. Educator also plays a crucial role to incorporate information on digital safety into the curriculum and provide school-based counsellors and peer-to-peer support for children. Moreover, it is important for government to implement law and regulation to protect children online, and businesses should enhance their awareness of social responsibility and development more preventive and child-friendly technology tools. Last but not least, children themselves also play an irreplaceable role of supporting one another by sharing information about how to protect each other, and speaking out against online violence. The majority of adolescents recognize online dangers exist and more than half think friends participate in risky behaviors, and more adolescents turn to friends than parents or teachers when they feel threatened online. Therefore, the role and capacity of children themselves should not be underestimated.

To conclude, protecting children online requires holistic and coordinated responses that take account of the full circumstances of the child’s life and the wide range of players, including parents, teachers, governments, law enforcement, civil society, private sector and children themselves. Accordingly, the workshop is going to discuss the different function and responsibility of each stakeholder and how to promote the collaboration and cooperation of the entire society to protect children from online bullying.

Format: 

Round Table - Circle - 90 Min

Description: In order to examine to what extent cyberbullying can be tackled and intervened through the improvement of children’s digital literacy, and how to improve their digital literacy, the workshop will first of all analyze what are the underlying causes of cyberbullying, as well as the elements and links in the process of transmission, in order to explore the main factors involved in this problem. Then, aiming at improving children’s digital literacy, what role can be played by different stakeholders including parents, school, government, businesses and children and how can they contribute to this issue will be discussed. A detailed schedule is designed as follow:
1.【5 mins】Welcome: Introduction to the workshop by the moderator, explain what is cyberbullying, the actuality of this problem and its harms to children.
2.【5 mins】Story Telling: Invite a child to share his or his peers’ experience from children’s perspective
3.【20 mins】First Round Question and Discussion: What are the underlying causes of cyberbullying? How could we tackle and prevent cyberbullying? Why digital literacy is essential in addressing this issue?
1) Open Q&A: The moderator will raise some questions for open answer and discussion from all participants, and then show the results of survey.
2) Speaker 1: Invite an expert in this field to explains the questions above.
3) Speaker 2: Invite a educator to talk about media literacy education at present.
4.【40 mins】Second Round Question and Discussion: What are the responsibility and role of different stakeholders including parents, school, government, businesses and children in this issue and how can each of them contribute to the improvement of children’s digital literacy?
1) Open Q&A: The moderator will raise some questions for open answer and discussion from all participants, and then show the results of survey.
2) Speakers: Invite a representative from each stakeholder group to share their views on the questions above
5.【10 mins】Open discussion and Q&A: all participants will have a chance to ask questions and speak about their views and speakers will answer these questions.
6.【10 mins】 Summary and Closing: Closing remarks by the moderator

Expected Outcomes: First of all, the workshop aims to enhance the awareness of all stakeholders in the international society, especially in developing countries to cyberbullying and the importance of children’s digital literacy and to take coordinate actions to protect children from cyberbullying.
Secondly, the workshop seeks to clarify the responsibility and division of each stakeholder in improving children’s digital literacy, and to promote the cooperation of entire society.
Thirdly, the workshop is designed to underline the engagement of children in the issue in order to be keenly aware of their feeling, experience and opinions.
Furthermore, the workshop wish to facilitate the developing countries to design and implement laws and policies that protect children from online violence, bullying and abuse.
In addition, the workshop plans to promote education sector to incorporate information on digital safety and media literacy education into the curriculum that is suitable for the characteristics of each country.

Discussion Facilitation: 

This workshop is planned to be an interactive session with meaningful discussion, and the discussion will be facilitated in the following ways.
Speakers: Speakers been invited to the workshop are from a diverse regions, age groups and academic backgrounds, covering every stakeholder in this issue as possible as we can, including parent, educator, business representative, expert, civil society and children themselves, in order to take all kinds of perspectives into consideration. The workshop give an opportunity for free discussion between different stakeholders. We fully respect the diversity, to be more specific, here there are 3 women and 2 men; 3 from Asia-Pacific group, 1 from WEOG and 1 from intergovernmental organization; 2 from civil society, 1 from technical community, 1 from private sector and 1 from intergovernment organization; and 1 from child group under 18--which ensure the discuss value and interaction.
Moderator: The moderator is well informed and experienced in animating multi-stakeholder discussions, and able to have a good control over the meeting progress. Questions and input for speakers will be prepared in advance to help stimulate interactive, dynamic dialogue. The moderator of the workshop will at the beginning take a roll call of all the participants and their affiliations, so that the moderator can call on individuals to comment on subject pertaining to their interest. Moderate will prep all speakers ahead of time and ask meaningful questions. He will encourage active engagement throughout.
Organizers: CFIS is a NGO and UNICEF is an inter-governmental organization.
Site design: The workshop room will be arranged as a concentric circles pattern. The invited speakers will sit in the inner circle and each of them will have a name tag in front, on which the stakeholder the speaker belongs to will be highlighted. Other participants are welcome to site from the inside to out with name tags and microphones as well.
Tools:
1) Preliminary survey: Before the workshop, targeting on cyberbullying and children’s media literacy, we will do a survey with a series of questions which are designed for discussion during the workshop in order to provide first-hand and data support to workshop discussion.
2) Warm-up discussion forum: On June 1st, we will held a forum on Protection of Children Online with the UNICEF and research institute together. During the forum, sub-topics including cyberbullying will be discuss by relevant experts, which will provide professional knowledge and support to the workshop.
3) Story-Telling Session: This special session is design to give an opportunity to children to have a voice in this issue and to take their perspective into fully consideration.
4) Question and Open discussion: During the workshop, two rounds of question and open discussion are design to encourage every participant to share their views and make contribution to the issue.
5) Audio-visual material: Organizers will explore the use of visuals (i.e. videos, PowerPoint slides, images, infographics) not only for presentation, but also throughout the workshop to animate the session and aid those whose native language may not be English.

Online Participation:
The workshop encourages online participation to animate discussions in the room and online simultaneously. This arrangement is especially aimed at covering all kinds of stakeholders in our discussion, because some of them might not able to come for some objective reasons. Remote participants will also be given an opportunity to ask and answer questions during discussion.
The remote moderator will have a key role as facilitator to the online participants. He will be involved throughout the workshop planning to advise on where remote participation will need to be facilitated. The moderator will frequently communicate with the remote moderator throughout the session to ensure remote participants’ views/questions are reflected. We will ensure that the workshop is advertised in advance to the wider community so that remote participants have the opportunity to prepare questions and interventions in advance and possibly generate more interested parties.

Online Participation: 

The workshop encourages online participation to animate discussions in the room and online simultaneously. This arrangement is especially aimed at covering all kinds of stakeholders in our discussion, because some of them might not able to come for some objective reasons. Remote participants will also be given an opportunity to ask and answer questions during discussion.
The remote moderator will have a key role as facilitator to the online participants. He will be involved throughout the workshop planning to advise on where remote participation will need to be facilitated. The moderator will frequently communicate with the remote moderator throughout the session to ensure remote participants’ views/questions are reflected. We will ensure that the workshop is advertised in advance to the wider community so that remote participants have the opportunity to prepare questions and interventions in advance and possibly generate more interested parties.

Proposed Additional Tools: Tools:
1) Preliminary survey: Before the workshop, targeting on cyberbullying and children’s media literacy, we will do a survey with a series of questions which are designed for discussion during the workshop in order to provide first-hand and data support to workshop discussion.
2) Warm-up discussion forum: On June 1st, we will held a forum on Protection of Children Online with the UNICEF and research institute together. During the forum, sub-topics including cyberbullying will be discuss by relevant experts, which will provide professional knowledge and support to the workshop.
3) Story-Telling Session: This special session is design to give an opportunity to children to have a voice in this issue and to take their perspective into fully consideration.
4) Question and Open discussion: During the workshop, two rounds of question and open discussion are design to encourage every participant to share their views and make contribution to the issue.
5) Audio-visual material: Organizers will explore the use of visuals (i.e. videos, PowerPoint slides, images, infographics) not only for presentation, but also throughout the workshop to animate the session and aid those whose native language may not be English.

SDGs: 

GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-Being
GOAL 4: Quality Education
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions