‘Power of Zero’ campaign promotes healthy online behaviors from early ages

Young boy in class raises his hand

Microsoft is proud to support today’s announcement of the Power of Zero, where zero means zero violence, zero hate and zero bullying from age zero. The campaign is driven by NoBully and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), in collaboration with global partners to encourage young people to stand up for one another online and off.

Today’s announcement follows more than 18 months of research, preparation and activity in conjunction with technology companies, nongovernmental organizations and other groups focused on creating a global movement to stop online bullying and harassment. Work first kicked off at a global strategy session in London in April 2017.

“So many of us are concerned about our children safely navigating the digital world,” says Nicholas Carlisle, founder of NoBully and Power of Zero. “How can we help them build the resilience they will need to deal with the risks and negative behaviors they will likely encounter in their online lives? And how can we encourage them to be inclusive and compassionate to others and stay away from the bullying and hate speech that dominate the ‘tween’ and teen years?”

Power of Zero is set to officially launch in January 2019. In collaboration with Scholastic, an American multinational publishing, education and media company, Power of Zero is providing early educators and families with the learning materials that young children need to engage online by leading with empathy, compassion and kindness. Since children are using devices at younger and younger ages, Power of Zero aims to ensure that young children across the globe grow up with the skills to use those devices safely and successfully.

Power of Zero and digital civility

Microsoft was eager to join the Power of Zero campaign and to support the effort both strategically and financially, given the close alignment to our own global campaign — now in its third year — which aims to foster digital civility: safer and healthier online interactions among all people.

Campaign slogan for Power of ZeroMicrosoft has been committed to combatting cyberbullying for more than a dozen years. We’ve conducted research in numerous countries; created tools and resources to help parents and other trusted adults identify and address online bullying incidents, and we’ve participated in international conferences and events designed to raise awareness and share best practices among key stakeholders.

Our latest digital civility research shows 10 percent of teens in 22 countries report having been cyberbullied online, up 1 percentage point from the previous two years’ studies, when online bullying stood at 9 percent. Fifteen percent of teens and adults, meanwhile, reported experiencing online harassment, compared to 15 percent and 17 percent in 2017 and 2016, respectively. While still higher percentages than we’d prefer to see, the research indicates the majority of people are doing the right thing online.

A few weeks ago, to coincide with back-to-school in many countries, we released some  preliminary results from our latest digital civility study. Findings show that teens – now more so than ever – are turning to their parents and other trusted adults for help with online issues. Indeed, 42 percent of teens who reported having experienced an online issue said they turned to a parent for guidance, while 28 percent sought help from another trusted adult like a teacher or coach. That compares to the previous year’s research when just 10 percent and 9 percent, respectively,  said they’d sought help from grown-ups. Full results of our latest study will be made available on international Safer Internet Day, Feb. 5.

Microsoft Store to hold cyberbullying prevention workshops

NoBully announced the Power of Zero in October, which is Bullying Prevention Month. In turn, Microsoft Store locations in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico will offer information sessions this month to help parents and educators navigate the complex issue of cyberbullying. The hour-long workshops will discuss what cyberbullying is, why it happens, and its impact on young people’s academic achievement and social and emotional well-being. Check your local store’s calendar of events to find a session at a store near you.

When faced with online bullying, we encourage parents, caregivers and all adults to pay attention, encourage empathy and foster kindness – and don’t forget your part as a role model for good digital and civil, in-person behaviors. So, get involved this Bullying Prevention Month. To learn more, visit the Power of Zero and NoBully websites, and consult these Microsoft resources: fact sheet, second fact sheet, presentation deck, research paper. For more on online safety generally, visit our website and resources page. And, for more regular news and information, connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

At the time of writing of this post, Jacqueline Beauchere’s title was Chief Online Safety Officer.

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