By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
The Department of Education (DepEd) on Friday led the launching of program which aims to inform and educate learners, teachers, parents, and the school community on how children can be safe online.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones led the launch of the #BeCyberSafe program wherein she highlighted the need to protect children on the dangers of cyberspace. The program, she said, complements DepEd’s plan by 2018 to spend at least Php 8.4M for the purchase of tablets so students will no longer be burdened by textbooks. “However, it will open them to the dangers of cyberspace,” she said.
In this day and age, Briones said that it is “no longer enough to tell our children not to talk to strangers.” What parents as well as teachers need to teach children is how to “protect themselves.”
In partnership with the Stairway Foundation and Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines (IMMAP), the #BeCyberSafe program has three main components that include: (1) Project for Keeps C; (2) Dalir-Eskwela; and (3) Chatbot.
“Project for Keeps” is a social media movement which aims to educate teenagers, aged 13 to 16, with active and public Facebook accounts, on the risks of befriending strangers online. The Project aims to “empower children, with the help of their guardians, to take control of their online profiles and apply steps on how to keep themselves in touch with friends but safe from online strangers.”
“Dalir-Eskwela,” on the other hand, offers a range of educational materials, which discuss key issues on cyber safety from Cyberbullying to Online Chatting, Online Gaming, and Online Pornography. “It is a school in which students can learn tips on how to properly use the Internet and make themselves safe as they use it.” The materials include videos for students, brochures for parents, and posters for the school community.
“Chatbot” is a Messenger-based helpline designed to “address the lack of reporting by children of child protection issues they face in the cyber space.” While still in its development phase, Chatbot aims to “gather information from the reporter, in this case the child, and offer help to handle the child protection concern.”
Through #BeCyberSafe, DepEd and its partners hope to produce a new generation of cyber citizens. The program is also one way of ensuring that the scope of protection extends to the cyber sphere. For DepEd OIC-Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Atty. Josephine Maribojoc, the program is meant to help children directly on social media and to “encourage children to report and seek help in the dangers they face.”