Build resilience in children to help them stay safe on social media

This report by UNICEF’s East Asia and Pacific regional office and the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention explores social media use in East Asia, gathering the views and experiences of children aged 11 to 18 years in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

The report makes several recommendations for family, school, community and service providers:

  1. Improve support for digital parenting, and parenting in a digital age: digital parenting should be integrated into evidence-based parenting programs and should consider differing levels of digital literacy amongst female and male caregivers, as well as differing levels of access to technology.
  2. Foster online and offline resilience in children: Resilient children—those equipped with skills in areas such as communication, conflict resolution and self-efficacy—are more likely to make appropriate choices when using social media, be better equipped to manage conflict that they may encounter through the platforms that they use and take better measures to keep themselves safe online.
  3. Ensure that messaging and responses by teachers and adults are based on evidence of patterns of use, and what works: Greater emphasis must be placed on evidence-based approaches within schools, and in homes, that equip children with the skills required to keep themselves safe online, to promote appropriate and positive decision-making skills, and that also support the opportunities that present through an increase in digital skills.
  4. Three steps for technology companies: Technology companies should make profiles private by default; the default options for new contacts is most commonly ‘everyone’; this could be changed to ‘friends of friends.’; and finally, social media apps can relatively easily be designed to block photos being sent by people outside contact lists.


About the author

Ian O'Byrne

Dr. W. Ian O’Byrne is a educator, researcher, & speaker. His work centers on teaching, learning, and technology. He investigates the literacy practices of individuals as they read, write, and communicate in online & hybrid spaces.

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