Filipino kids are the second most vulnerable to online threats globally — study

Ramon Royandoyan - Philstar.com
Filipino kids are the second most vulnerable to online threats globally � study
Cybersecurity company Surfshark penned the study, which found six out of 10 children ages 8-12 were exposed to cyber risks online, using open-source data from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. Turkey rounded the list of the top three countries where children were at risk from online threats, which include cyberbullying.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino kids are one of the most vulnerable and exposed to online risks globally, a new study released Tuesday found.

A study by cybersecurity company Surfshark found that Filipino children's exposure to online risks such as cyberbullying, phishing and hacking was the second-highest in the world.

The Philippines was just behind Thailand, where children are highly exposed to online risks and don't have sufficient skills to cope with cyber threats. Turkey completed the top three countries where kids are most vulnerable to online risks.

To come up with the report, Surfshark aggregated data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) internet crime report from 2015 to 2020 and DQ Institutes’ Child Online Safety Index (COSI). 

The data were used to calculate the online risk exposure scores of each country. The scores were then grouped into scales to determine the levels of online risk exposure: 0-20 is very low; 21-40 is low; 41-60 is moderate; 61-80 is high; and 81-100 is very high.

Globally, Surfshark reported that six out of 10 children ages 8-12 were exposed to cyber risks online. In addition, one in two children encounter cyberbullying, and close to one-third experiences other cyber threats such as phishing or hacking.

But the findings were troubling for the Philippines, known as the world’s social media capital where 74.1% of its total population as of 2021 are smartphone users according to Statista, a data provider.

At the same time, the Philippines carved a reputation as a hotspot for child pornography and abuse in recent years. Save The Children Philippines revealed in February 2021 the “silent pandemic” of online sexual abuse and exploitation victimizing Filipino kids at the height of draconian quarantine measures in early 2020.

Aleksandr Valentij, a cybersecurity expert at Surfshark, believes that educating children about cyber threats plays a massive role in knowing how to deal with any problems that may arise online.

Interestingly, Surfshark found that low and lower-middle-income countries have better online safety education than the rich ones. For instance, high-income countries like Saudi Arabia and Uruguay have “non-existent” online safety education.

"There is no one-size-fits-all approach to discussing online safety with your children. Instead, you must discover ways to converse with them and assist them in understanding what to do," Valentij said.

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