MANILA, Philippines – Based on a survey conducted by Stairway Foundation and the Philippine “Break the Silence” network among 7-16-year-olds, 3 out of 10 children chat online with strangers, 4 out of 10 know someone who has been a victim of cyberbullying, and 6 out of 10 have seen pornographic links via social media.
If this isn’t alarming enough, 5 out of 10 these children stated that no one has talked to them about cyber safety.
In a separate survey conducted by The Nerve, a data insights company, parents said that they’re not really sure what else their kids are doing online (18.85%) apart from watching videos (20.84%) and playing games (19.82%).
And while majority of the respondents think that pornography (18.73%) is something parents should be worried about on the internet, a number of them still think that the internet is a pretty safe place for their kids (17.35%).
But this is far from reality.
Kids are actually exposed to a number of threats online including cyberbullying, cyberpredators, phishing, gambling, gaming addiction, child traffickers, and more.
Sometimes applying parental controls – which parents think are the best way to protect their children from the dangers of the internet – is not enough. A lot of kids nowadays, known as the digital natives, know how to break through these security measures.
That’s why the Department of Education (DepEd), Stairway Foundation, and the Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines (IMMAP) have collaborated with each other to form #BeCyberSafe. The project aims to inform and educate learners, teachers, parents, and the school community on how children can be safe online.
“We have policies on children’s safety but it’s more focused on physical aspects like don’t talk to strangers, don’t go to places you don’t know, don’t let strangers touch you,” said DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones. “We are now recognizing that we are protected not just by physical ways but as well as cyber life skills.”
The #BeCyberSafe project has 3 main components:
Project for Keeps, a social media movement which aims to educate teenagers aged 13-16 on the risks of making friends with strangers online;
Dalir-Eskwela, a range of educational materials which discuss key issues on cyber safety – from cyberbullying to online chatting, online gaming, and online pornography, and
Chatbot, a Facebook Messenger-based helpline designed to address the lack of reporting by children of child protection issues they face in cyberspace.
“Online safety is not only about technology. It’s about behavioral change,” said Ysrael Diloy, Senior Advocacy Officer, Stairway Foundation. “Children can overcome technological filters. They must be empowered to face the technological challenges.”
And that is what they hope to achieve as the #BeCyberSafe project rolls out in schools and communities.
“DepEd has a lot of catching up to do. We already have children who are victims and adults who are perpetrators,” said Briones. “This is a challenge which DepEd can’t face alone. It’s a task for all of us.” – Rappler.com