MANILA, Philippines — Instead of imposing rules on internet use, parents should communicate with their children to protect them from online risks.
This was what Jurist Gamban, Globe Telecommunications Inc. Tattoo@Home head, said on Monday during the launch of the Yahoo! TechnoStorm Expo at Trinoma Mall.
Gamban said that the number of teenagers using the internet has “dramatically increased” not only worldwide but particularly in the Philippines. She pointed out how compared to television usage which was flat, internet use has recently shown significant growth.
A large chunk of this growth can be attributed to the youth who have access to the internet and are “able to cram 38 hours of online activities in 24 hours through multiple windows and gadgets,” added Gamban.
“They’re very different from us although technology permeates our lives,” she explained, saying that among the risks which the youth can run into online are sexual solicitation, cyberbullying, and inappropriate content.
“Let’s step back for a while and think about how technology is impacting on majority of its users. More and more of its users are the youth,” she told the audience, pointing out that it was important for parents to be able to communicate to their children about the risks in using the internet without barring its use at home.
She said that although there were risks “more and more recognize that the internet is necessary for advancement. The parents’ dilemma is that their children may be exposed to risks and they want to strike a balance between enabling them and protecting them.”
As a mother herself, Gamban’s tried and tested tip for parents is to engage and “find out what they are doing and connect with them.”
Like with the usual reminder to children not to talk to strangers, she said that she translates that sort of reminder to her children’s online space. “Talk to them in a language they understand and not in terms of rules and limits. It has to be an understanding rather than a parent imposing rules.”
Getting angry at children’s access to inappropriate content online was not the solution because “rather than getting mad after they are caught, usually they are ashamed and afraid of repercussions,” said Gamban.
“Control your own anger and fears and sit them down and speak to them as rationally as possible. Your children will listen if you don’t talk to them like kids,” she said.
“Equip yourselves with books and tools to minimize the risks on both data and your children’s experiences online. The thing is not stopping them–that doesn’t help,” she urged parents.
“What you want is communication and maybe you can agree on time limits and usage reporting to give you an idea what they are up to,” said Gamban.
“Nothing beats responsibility and proactive parental guidance. Remind them to just be careful online,” she added.