Wake-up call for parents
ESSENCE - Liagaya Rabago-Visaya (The Freeman) - March 2, 2019 - 12:00am

We wonder what our children are doing with their computers alone inside their rooms at home or even outside, in internet cafés. Amid their peaceful minutes as they are hooked to the screen, we always wonder why they spent such a long period of time uninterrupted. This is given the fact that we can't even hold their attention when we ask them how their schooling is.


Their young minds are inquisitive for new things, for new challenges. This challenge is normal for children. They are eager to see things. They are curious. For challenges, if successful, would prove their capabilities and worth, and so they brag that they can do this and that, even unmindful of the possible consequences.

There are real as well as virtual or online challenges. Online challenges have, for quite some time, been trendy among netizens. They can be engaging and even helpful, for example, the ice bucket challenge, which paid for ALS disease research.

The recent one, the Momo challenge, notwithstanding if it is a hoax or not, I believe is an opportunity to discuss measures to shield kids from risky online content. The challenge or the stories seem to target children who are too young to distinguish right from wrong. And so there is where adults' role, utilizing prudence and wisdom, comes into place.

It is my intense hope that we guardians assume an active role in monitoring our youngsters online as the best impact on kids is neither the government nor the schools, it's us. There's no advanced science in digital parenting. It's essentially returning to the rudiments of child rearing like putting aside minutes where and when communication happens, without interferences from online manipulations.

When we already have less interaction with our children then this is the time they will look for ways to be preoccupied. This brings back to the idea of making sure we have adequate time with our children. If government agencies and even YouTube can't control this, we as parents need to do our part. While our children are growing up in the age of the internet, we can teach them self-control when using technology.

We should maintain open communication lines with kids to allow them to inform and trust them with matters that may make them feel uncomfortable, coerced, or unsafe. Distorted efforts meant to prey on the vulnerabilities of the youth should be resisted with proper guidance and education and by empowering the children with knowledge of their rights and responsibilities online and offline.

We should act preemptively to tackle such problems. We let children know they can come to us if they find things online which they might find scary or otherwise threatening, allowing us to discuss anything they find in a constructive manner which would lessen or negate the harmful impact of the offending content.

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