EDITORIAL – Parents are still the best safeguard against social media dangers
(The Freeman) - November 18, 2019 - 12:00am

There is now a measure pending before the House of Representatives proposing to restrict the access of children under 13 years old to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Deputy Speaker Danilo Fernandez said the main purpose of House Bill 5307 is to protect children under 13 years old from entities that collect personal and location information.

It also proposes to limit the time spent by these children on social media sites to 30 minutes a day.

The proposed measure is not just good but also timely. Just recently a 17-year-old girl said she was raped in Minglanilla by a 15-year-old boy whom she met after they exchanged messages on social media.

They met in person two days after meeting online, and on that occasion he allegedly took advantage of her.

This case highlights the danger social media poses to those not fully aware of how it can be used for evil.

However, how enforceable is House Bill 5307? Fernandez wants social media companies to install “natural stopping points” that prevent scrolling down after a certain amount of content has been viewed. Easier said than done, a social media site would first have to be able to identify if a current user is under 13 years old.

And even if social media companies were somehow able to do that, it is so easy to fool the system. Children can switch to another device, or create a dummy account pretending to be legal age. There are many ways to skin a cat.

The best protection against the perils of social media is still parental control.

Lawmakers can legislate all the laws needed to make the internet safe for kids. Social media sites can put up all the safeguards they can program, but none of these can compare to a parent looking over the shoulder of a child and at what the child is looking at online.

Of course, we mean this figuratively. Not all parents can hover over their children all the time. However they can enforce safeguards like limiting screen time per day, determining what content the child can see, and making sure the child can only access the internet on certain devices.

There is no doubt social media can become a tool for evil in the wrong hands, a little vigilance can go a long way to protect children from those who want to use social media for nefarious purposes.

DANILO FERNANDEZ
Philstar
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