ACCORDING to the Statistics Department, Malaysian domestic access to the internet rose to 90.1% in 2019 compared to 87% in 2018; a rise of 3.5%. The percentage of households’ access to mobile phones was at 98.2% in 2019.
The five most popular activities among internet users were social networking (97.1%), downloading pictures, movies, videos or music or downloading games (84.7%), finding information for goods and services (83.5%), telephoning over the internet (77.4%) and downloading software or applications (77.1%). Clearly, many Malaysians are using the internet and their mobile phones as an integral part of their daily lifestyle.
Certainly, the online world brings many benefits. Social media, for example, assists in making social connections, seeking relevant personal information, for example on health or new recipes, and for many students it is a useful resource in education.
But the online world carries its own risks. And children are the most susceptible to these risks endangering their psychological and mental wellbeing and even their relationships.
These risks include cyberbullying, cyber predators getting access to personally identifiable information, phishing, posting personal details that may come back to have a negative impact on you in the future and many forms of scams.
For example, during the times of fears and hardship stemming from major crises such as the Covid-19 outbreak, scammers tend to capitalise on to manipulate vulnerable and unsuspecting members of the public. During this time of crisis, the number of online scams has indeed increased substantially.
To ensure consumer make best use of the benefits of technology while protecting themselves from the risks, consumers need to be empowered through consumer education focusing on digital literacy. Digital literacy means not only being able to understand and use technology, but also knowing the limitations of technology and understanding the dangers and precautions that the use of technology requires.
The increasing number of scams, cyber bullying and exposure to many forms of risks means that many Malaysians continue to increasingly become victims of online risks and dangers.
Fomca strongly believes that not enough is being done to empower consumers, especially children and youth, to protect themselves from the tremendous risks. The government needs to commit more resources to empower consumers, especially vulnerable consumers, to protect themselves in the online world. Digital literacy programmes will ensure optimal use of the technology with minimal exposure to the risks and dangers of the online universe. – June 25, 2020.
* Dr Paul Selva Raj is Fomca chief executive officer.
* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.