Need to improve digital literacy

ACCORDING to the Statistics Department, the percentage of Malaysians accessing the Internet has increased from 87% in 2018 to 90.1% in Malaysia, and the percentage of households with access to smart phones was 98.2% in 2019.

The five most popular activities among Internet users are:

1. Social networking (97.1%);

2. Downloading photos/films/music/games (84.7%);

3. Searching for information on goods and services (83.5%);

4. Voice communication via the Internet (77.4%); and

5. Downloading software (77.1%).

One of the benefits of the Internet is the social media facility that enables people to create and share content or to participate in social networking.

However, widespread Internet usage also poses risks to users who could become victims of online scams or cyberbullying. There have been many reports of people losing large sums of money in scams perpetrated online, such as the Macau scam, investment and loan scams, love scam and even mule account activities.

These fraudulent activities often involve large sums of money, hence people need to understand the technological limitations as well as the dangers of using the Internet.

The police have carried out many initiatives to address these criminal activities, such as providing a platform to verify the authenticity of a phone number or if a bank account number is linked to scam activities.

The public should not disclose personal information to strangers to avoid becoming victims of scammers. Cybercrime is increasing in Malaysia and was found to be quite rampant during the movement control order period.

I am of the opinion that what has been done so far in improving digital literacy is inadequate, especially among children and teens whose psychological and mental well-being can be negatively impacted by the Internet and technology. I hope the relevant bodies will systematically and consistently organise digital literacy programmes in order to reduce the risks associated with using the Internet.

Digital literacy should be included in the school curriculum from as early as primary school so that the younger generation can be aware of and be protected from scam syndicates and other online criminals.

TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE , Chairman Alliance for Safe Community (Ikatan)

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