KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 — Malaysia ranks second in Asia in 2020 for cyberbullying among youth, according to a United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) report — indicating that cyberbullying is becoming an increasingly prominent problem in the country.

The popular usage of social media platforms has made it a rife breeding ground for cyberbullying and toxic behaviour, not only among youth but adults as well.

A researcher on cyberbullying among youth, Jessie Yong Tse Shing says that such behaviour could be the projection of their own unhappiness due to being deprived of their basic needs.

“According to Glasser’s Choice Theory, these needs are survival, belonging (to love, to be loved, and to be of value), power, freedom, and fun,” she explains to Bernama in an interview.

The Choice Theory, developed by American psychiatrist William Glasser, posits that all humans have five basic needs that drive their behaviour (choices).

Whenever one or more of their basic needs are not met, they might use cyberbullying as a tool to satisfy their needs. This is why cyberbullying cases are not only perpetuated by youth but also adults as well, said Yong, who is also a part-time lecturer at Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC).

Studies have also revealed that perpetrators of cyberbullying experienced higher rates of loneliness, said Yong during TalkSpace, a webinar recently held to address issues related to cyberbullying, particularly among youths.

“This is due to a lack of affection by family members and the society around them. Bullying people online is their attempt to seek attention from strangers,” she explained.

She added that those with lower rates of global self-worth, social acceptability, and popularity were also likely to engage in cyberbullying, as studies have shown that cyberbullies were often socially incompetent individuals.

Another speaker during the webinar shared her experience enduring various forms of cyberbullying since age 16 and how to engage police help to put an end to the harassment.

Narvinni Jayakumar, founder of Project #Cybercancelled and former Miss Petite Universe International Semenanjung (MPUIS) 2020, said she had had to endure verbal abuse, masquerading, and cyberstalking and is now keen to help others get themselves out of similar situations.

The webinar session held on Dec 29 was the first organised by the final year Persuasive Communication students from Universiti Sains Malaysia’s School of Communication and saw the participation of over 400 people. The students have also launched a campaign called NETHICS, aimed at promoting proper social media etiquette and curbing cyber harassment.

Project director Larissa Lorelle Christian said the campaign would give youth the opportunity to address issues of cyberbullying and learn proper online etiquette.

The NETHICS campaign also saw the students organising WorkSpace, a workshop held on Jan 10 to share the importance of nurturing personal branding and tips to improve online identity through social media platforms. — Bernama