M'sians Spend More Than 8 Hours Online A Day. Here's How You Can Stay Safe While Browsing

Whether you're young or old, it's important to always stay vigilant.

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This Spotlight is sponsored by Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

The average Malaysian spends more than eight hours a day online, including 2 hours 47 minutes on social media, according to a global digital report in 2023

Meltwater and We Are Social's Digital 2023 Global Overview Report found that Malaysians are online less nowadays, but their time spent on social media is still above the world average by 16 minutes.

While social media is a way for us to be entertained, stay connected, and get information, it can easily turn into a source of harm as well, if not careful.

From fake news and scams, to cyberbullying and sexual harassment, there are various kinds of online harm to beware of. Although it may be impossible to completely steer clear of such harms, knowing they exist is a good first step to keep you and your loved ones protected.

In collaboration with Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), here are three practical ways to safeguard yourself online:

1. For parents with children, parental control is only part of the solution. Having intentional, open conversations with your kids will help keep them safe in the long run.

According to a recent survey, it's estimated that 100,000 Malaysian children who use the Internet have experienced online sexual exploitation and abuse in the past year. Two main platforms where children experienced sexual harassment was social media (40%) and online games (21%).

A separate study by the Ministry of Health also showed that one in five adolescents in Malaysia have admitted to bullying or harassing someone online.

While parental control and limiting screen time can help reduce the chances of your children being exposed to online harm, it's not a foolproof solution. In fact, many children affected by harassment and cyberbullying suffer in silence.

It's important to not just take preventive measures to protect your children against online harm. Instead, having intentional conversations with your children regarding how they spend their time online and who they talk to is very important. Being interested in what interests your children and knowing their online habits will help keep you in the loop as a parent, and allow you to step in whenever necessary.

2. Keep calm when browsing online — never rush to conclusions and make rash decisions just based on a social media post or DM

Whether it's fake news or scams, social media is full of misinformation these days, which means you and your loved ones need to be extra careful.

To put things into perspective, MCMC blocked 2.2 billion scam calls from 2017 to 2022 — even then, scam cases have been on the rise.

One way to keep you and your loved ones safe is to always stay calm while on the Internet. When it comes to fake news, it often spreads like wildfire because people see it and forward it without a second thought. Similarly, scammers often portray a sense of urgency to cause you to make an irrational decision.

Instead of rushing to conclusions or making a rash decision, keep a cool head. Often times, thinking twice will help you gain a better perspective. And remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

3. When in doubt, call for help! But, only use trusted sources.

Whenever you or your loved ones come across something you're unsure of, the best course of action is to get help.

There are multiple hotlines and sources that you can visit to verify information. For instance, you can contact the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM)'s Commercial Crime Investigation Department Scam Response Centre at 03-26101559 and 03-26101599. Or, you can WhatsApp MCMC at 016-2206262 to make a report.

You can also use the portal to verify whether a story you've seen online is true.

For banking-related queries, the best way is to reach out to your bank's official channels. However, be careful to only use official bank websites and contact centres. If you come across messages, WhatsApp chats, or calls from personal accounts or numbers, it's best to always end the chat and refer to official channels for clarification.

Last but not least, while friends and family can be of great help, make sure you're careful not to reveal sensitive information over the web, as scammers can often pose as someone you know.

In an effort to help Malaysians safeguard themselves from all forms of online harm, MCMC is taking stern action to regulate digital content in the country

MCMC will be reviewing the country's existing self-regulatory framework, due to an increasing level of content being exploited by criminals and those who attempt to threaten public safety and national harmony.

In particular, stricter regulatory action and intervention will be taken to protect the interests of consumers and the public, especially in relation to apps and social media platforms that are seen as ineffective in self-regulation.

MCMC will also be working together with PDRM, Bank Negara Malaysia, and the National Anti-Financial Crime Centre to clamp down on platforms, networks, or online facilities that facilitate scams, malicious cyber activities, fraud, phishing, as well as content that threatens racial stability, breaks religious harmony, and shows contempt for rulers.

As for users, MCMC continues to urge Malaysians to always stay vigilant and reach out for assistance whenever needed.

To find out more about how you can protect yourself and your loved ones on social media, visit MCMC's website today

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