Smart, the wireless unit of the Philippines’ largest integrated telco PLDT, takes on the role of the youth’s champion against cyber criminals through its CyberSmart: Cyber Security Beyond Digital series. The digital caravan has been adapted for PLDT-Smart employees to help them secure their families, especially their children, against the dangers lurking in the world wide web. It’s a fitting conclusion to the month of November which happens to be National Children’s Month.
“Smart and PLDT care, especially, about children. We are actively working with authorities to keep them safe from online predators as children spend more time on the internet,” said Alfredo S. Panlilio, Smart President & CEO and PLDT Chief Revenue Officer.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced the government to shift education to blended learning modules making use of broadcast media and the internet. With children logged on into the internet, they are exposed to cyber threats. “90% of Filipino children can go online whenever they want to. And more than half of them can do so without supervision,” said Marie Michelle Muñoz, Child Protection Officer at UNICEF.
Children are more exposed to these risks because they’re spending more time online to study, play, and meet with friends. But this exposes them to online predators lurking in the shadows waiting for the opportunity to pounce on them.
“A UNICEF study in 2017 revealed that 8 out of 10 children or the youth are at risk of online sexual abuse,” Muñoz added. That’s why UNICEF encourages parents to supervise their children whenever they’re on the internet.
Online sexual abuse and exploitation of children includes exposing them to inappropriate content such as sexual abuse materials, engaging children with risky online behavior, live online sexual abuse or grooming.
Partnering with UNICEF, Smart laid out tips that parents can teach their children to ward off online predators.
Never show personal details. Do not post your home address or even your child’s school on any social networking site because this will help predators track your children.
Parents are advised to never allow their kids meet up with anybody whom they’ve only known on the internet. Encourage your children to inform you if someone wants to meet up with them in person.
Warn kids against responding to mean, nasty, suggestive, or rude emails or posts because this could lead to cyberbullying.
Tell them to immediately leave a chat room if someone says or writes something that makes them feel uncomfortable or worried. It’s possible that the offending party could be a sexual predator.
Always remind them to check with you first before downloading or installing any software on their phones, tablets or computers to make sure that these applications won’t compromise their privacy.
Advise them against sharing passwords with anyone, not even with their best friend, so these passwords don’t fall into the hands of the wrong persons who might assume their identity and cause damage online.
Encourage children to tell you or their guardian if they see bad language, distasteful pictures, and inappropriate video while online.
Tell children to be wary of so-called ‘talent scouts’ enticing them with offers of quick money, promising them fame or stardom, or meeting a celebrity. Chances are, these could be traps.
Set the privacy settings of your children’s social networking pages to the highest level. Teach them to avoid using their birthdays or other personal details in creating passwords. Help them create strong login credentials by using a combination of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
Finally, always ask them to think carefully before posting their photos or videos online. Remind them that once these are uploaded, they’re likely to remain in the public domain forever.
PLDT, the country’s largest integrated telecommunications company and Smart are embracing the safeguard of children’s rights. After a series of consultations with UNICEF, the two companies have integrated pro-children policies into their operations – a first in the Philippines.