10 Facts from Cyberbullying Insight: Woes and Voice of Thai Gen Zers

25 June 2021– During the past many years, Thailand has shown greater awareness of cyberbullying with the government, the private sector, and civil society joining forces in addressing the issue. The utmost essential solution to cyberbullying, however, lies in “regulatory standard” that delivers “protection” to victims and holistic efforts that lead to sustainable changes.

Asst. Prof. Thanee Chaiwat, Director of the Chulalongkorn University’s Chulalongkorn Experimental Economics Center, has been the researcher behind the efforts to develop “Anti- Cyberbullying Guidelines”. To ensure this playbook truly addresses all aspects of cyberbullying, his research collected data via Jam Ideation platform. In-depth unstructured interviews were conducted to gather opinions that reflect the situation, recognize problems, and manage real-life cyberbullying impacts on target groups. As target groups answered open-ended questions, they opened up and gave insight.

The interviews have provided ten interesting facts as follows:

  1. Gen Zers define “Cyberbullying” as “Posting slanderous content, either knowingly or unknowingly, on social media to spread negative information that shames, humiliates, and degrades others”. The definition also covers comments, LIKEs, shares, or reposting of such posts. Because the online world makes it easy to hide one’s identity, bullying is “easier and more widespread”.
  2. Slanderous posts on the basis of image, gender, status, race, religious faith, taste, and opinions are the most common bullying form facing Gen Zers. Next are body-shaming posts. The interviews also reveal that net celebrities’ influence has spawned comparisons that degrade oneself or others, for example by means of beauty standard.
  3. Gen Zers believe body shaming related to complexion, body shape, and facial features, etc., is the harshest form of cyberbullying. Next are the ones related to sex and sexual orientation, and the ones related to status, education, opinions, taste, and personal preferences. Also found online are sexual harassment and bullying by fake accounts. Importantly, there have been reports of cyberbullying by family members.
  4. Instagram is the most popular social-media platform among Gen Zers. It is used for posting personal photos. Facebook is the second most popular. Gen Zers use it mainly for posting general pictures/messages, following news, or sharing interesting content from various Facebook pages. Twitter, YouTube, TikTok are the next most popular. Gen Z use these platforms to follow online trends. They have also followed their favorite YouTubers and uploaded some clips via these platforms.
  5. Cyberbullying happens because of two types of factors – internal and external. Internal factors refer to one’s fun, one’s like for teasing others, one’s wish to exert one’s identity or superiority over others, as well as one’s attitudes, taste and opinions that are different from others. External factors refer to misconceptions that have been long entrenched such as beauty standard and biases of others, including sexual biases. Online platforms have made it easier to engage in bullying.
  6. Cyberbullying involves three groups of persons. The first group is actors who bully others online because of personal motives such as personal dislike and the fun of teasing others. The second group is victims who “deviate” from social standards and are judged on social media based on just one aspect of them such as their different behaviors or different sexual orientation. The third group is bystanders who have joined cyberbullying simply because they feel they will not be held responsible for their actions or because they want to help their friends.
  7. Cyberbullying has hurt victims’ self-confidence. Victims become depressed, seriously worried, and skeptical. They are prone to keep themselves from others. These factors can lead to depression, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts.
  8. When exposed to cyberbullying, most victims tend to ignore the attacks. Responses are generally based on experiences and maturity. Open retaliations mostly occur among young kids who have not yet had much experience.
  9. However, when facing cyberbullying, victims generally consult their close friends because they believe friendship is “safe zone”. They feel better when they can express their feelings and get listening ears, not judgments. Many victims also deal with the emotional impacts from cyberbullying on their own. Of such victims, most are LGBTQ+. The third biggest group of victims choose to consult parents in the hope of getting moral support. They, however, are mostly ignored.
  10. Regarding solutions, Gen Zers believe attitudinal changes hold key. They believe promoting new values such as respect for diversity, Think Before Act concept, and the aspiration to give moral support/positive energy to others is the most important solution. Next, they believe public awareness of cyberbullying, social standard against such bullying, and the formulation of practical cyberbullying-prevention guideline and the engagement of victims in problem-solving process will help. Thirdly, Gen Z think the government should mete out legal punishments against perpetrators of cyberbullying and offer legal remedial actions to victims. In their view, positive discipline and the exchanges of opinions are also solutions to cyberbullying.

Today, dtac Safe Internet is committed to addressing cyberbullying problem comprehensively, leading to sustainable solutions through brainstorming platform under #BraveAgainstCyberbullying (#ให้ไซเบอร์บูลลี่จบที่รุ่นเรา) campaign. The Jam ideation aims to provide safe and open spaces to express their opinions and share their thoughts equally. Teenagers are encouraged to attend a 72-hour online brainstorming session, starting from June 25 at 8 pm to June 28 at 8 pm via https://www.safeinternetlab.com/brave