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Editorial | The beast that lurks in cyberspace

New technology has changed the way we live – if we are able to harness its potential for good, it makes life better, but taken to the extreme, it can be such a huge problem. This is particularly true if we look at the impact it has on children who are ill-advised or allowed by parents too much exposure on gadgets.

What has been bothering parents and institutions is that the internet makes children vulnerable to cyber bullying, inappropriate content from unscrupulous adults and even online predators. Worse is the fact that teachers in some private schools encourage very young kids to open social media accounts and post their videos doing chores at home or whatever these teachers can think of as a form of assignment. Some parents, sadly, do not complain to the school believing this is the new norm. The Department of Education should investigate this as soon as possible. If it can close down 35 Salugpongan schools in the hinterlands, surely it can do something to stop schools from requiring children as young as Grade I to post vlogs through social media. How can a teacher encourage a young child to fake his identity or use the parents’ social media account just to pass an assignment?

Parents should strictly supervise their children. Many, unfortunately, lack the understanding or simply do not care about the beast that lurks in cyberspace or the impact of their posts on social media, especially those showing personal information of their young children. Just look at the mother-daughter team who caused panic and pandemonium during last week’s quake.

A National Baseline Survey – Violence Against Children (NBS-VAC) showed that about 2.9% of children have their own nude body or own sexual activities shown via the internet or mobile phone, 28% have been presented images of sexual activities of other people, and 35.4% have received sexually charged, negative, foul words or messages.
The Department of Justice’s Office of Cybercrime (OCC) reported receiving 37,715 cyber tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in 2016 which grew to 45,645 in 2017, while the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reported 172 cases of child pornography in 2017, up from 62 cases the previous year.

The African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” is very accurate in these times when technology often gets the better of us.

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