By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
Child protection advocates appealed to parents not to replace relationships with children with the excessive use of gadgets, as “personal relationship” remains “the most important facet of parenting.”
This was the message emphasized by advocates of child protection which include national government agencies (NGAs) and non-government organizations (NGOs), who gathered over the weekend to tackle the challenges of digital parenting.
As part of the 26th National Children’s Month celebration, the Conference on Digital Parenting focused on how technology affects parenting styles.
The conference was led by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD); Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), an attached agency of DSWD; and National Youth Commission (NYC) with partner NGAs and NGOs.
CWC Executive Director Mary Mitzi Cajayon-Uy emphasized the impact of social media in the lives of children.
“Gadgets, such as mobile phones, are now the most common gifts of parents to their children whenever they get high grades,” Cajayon-Uy said.
“Social media provides connection and knowledge, but it also has negative effects, so parents must ensure that their children are protected against online predators, cyberbullying, and other dangers in the world wide web,” she added.
Meanwhile, Department of Information, Communication and Technology (Assistant Secretary Carlos Mayorico Caliwara said technology has replaced traditional parenting so parents must continue to educate themselves for them to properly guide their children.
Psychologist and guidance counselor Michelle Alignay shared that “one drawback of technology is that children nowadays do not know how to wait because digital media has taught them to get what they want and what they need to know immediately.”
“Hence, children and youth become used to instant gratification, not realizing that patience builds up character and discipline,” she added.
Moreover, the issue of child online safety was tackled by lawyer Maria Michelle Munoz, coordinator of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Child Online Protection, who presented the results of the Global Kids Online survey conducted in selected barangays in Metro Manila and nearby province in Pampanga.
The survey results showed the online use and access of children aged nine to 17.
Global Kids Online aims to educate and protect children on online sexual abuse and exploitation.
Some of the findings indicate that the average age of first internet use among participants in the survey was nine years old.