Reduction in cyberbullying observed during lockdown in Latvia

  • Awareness
  • 04/08/2020
  • Latvian Safer Internet Centre

Despite restrictions related to the COVID-19 lockdown, Latvian students have managed to adapt to distance learning, and their overall experience has been mostly positive, as shown in the results of a survey conducted in May 2020 by Telia Company in the Nordic and Baltic states. 1,000 students aged 10-18 were interviewed in Latvia in cooperation with Drossinternets.lv, the Latvian Safer Internet Centre (SIC).

Half of the students surveyed in Latvia admit that they are generally satisfied with distance learning, and there is no significant difference between age groups. At the same time, 19 per cent of respondents say that they are not satisfied with learning from home. When describing essential differences from the traditional learning process, students note that the need to cope with the school tasks on their own has increased and the complexity of tasks increased as well. They also have to spend more time on learning. There have been fewer tasks that have to be done together with classmates or involve discussions. When describing the learning process, students mentioned the possibility of taking breaks, greater independence, as well as better learning results as positive aspects, while acknowledging that the ability to focus on learning tasks is lower than at school.

"Overall, Latvian students take a positive view of the changes in their daily lives due to remote learning, which is evidenced by the fact that in most cases their emotional well-being has improved. However, quite a few students have had problems with distance learning. When planning the improvement of the distance learning process, schools should think about the development of students' digital skills and pay more attention to their ability to work independently, use the available tools and navigate the information space. Online safety is still on the agenda – every effort should be made to protect children from cyberbullying, unwanted contacts with strangers and other online risks during the learning process and their free time" said Maija Katkovska, Head of Drossinternets.lv.

When it comes to the emotional condition of Latvian students, the survey shows that their feeling of safety, peace and their productivity have increased the most. As for negative emotions, increased boredom, fatigue and sense of loneliness are mentioned most frequently. As regards mental well-being, a majority (28 per cent) admits that it has improved, yet almost a fifth, or 21 per cent, claims that it has worsened. A large part of students has slept more during this period, and their nutrition has become healthier, but unfortunately, half of them spend less time on physical activities.

Cyberbullying on the internet has become less relevant during distance learning. 27 per cent of the surveyed students admit that they have encountered it less during the distance learning period than during face-to-face studies. At the same time, 6 per cent of students say that cyberbullying has increased. When analysing the channels where cyberbullying was more widely spread than before, they mentioned more often comments in social networks and closed chat groups. Students most often talked to their parents and families about cyberbullying, which is noted by almost one third or 28 per cent of Latvian students. They also discussed this subject with their classmates, teachers, friends and school support staff.

Children have also been exposed to online threats during distance learning. Most frequently, in 11 per cent of cases, it was mentioned that during the studies the child was contacted by an adult with whom they had no contact in real life. Computer virus threatened the same number of respondents. Threats included situations where someone used the child's password, photos or videos posted or accidentally seen something on the internet, which made the child feel uncomfortable. There have also been situations where a lesson is accessed online by a stranger who should not be able to.

The survey was conducted by Scandinavian telecommunications company Telia Company as part of the "Students Consulting Committee". It involved 7,000 children aged 10-18 in Norway, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, and aged 16-18 in Sweden. In Latvia, 1,000 students participated in the survey. The "Students Consulting Committee" was established several years ago to better understand children's own opinion about living online and digital topics.

Find out more information about the work of the Latvian Safer Internet Centre (SIC) generally, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services, or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.


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