Press Clippings

Keeping Children Safe From Online Threats



    MCMC Outreach and Engagement Division Head Eneng Faridah Iskandar.

    KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- Everything appears quiet in the house. The 16 year old daughter is at the dining table using the old laptop, probably browsing the Facebook, or Instagram, or whatever social page that is a craze right now.

    While her 10 year old brother is in his room. The parents' guess is that the boy is taking a nap or playing a game with his tablet.

    The parents feel contented with the scenario. The children are within their reach, at home, safe and sound.

    But think again! Though they maybe at home, the gadget in their hands are doors to another world. The doors open to an infinite space that even exposes the children to ill-intentioned strangers and acquaintances, what more the unfiltered visuals and information from wide range of topics.

    INTERNET, A DOUBLE EDGED SWORD

    It is undeniable that the internet provides humankind with unlimited access to information, culture, communication and entertainment thus encouraging creativity and creating opportunities in every sphere of live.

    Unfortunately, the internet has a dark side too as it contains real threats, specifically to children and young adults. Cyber-bullying, pornography, violence, racial abuse and hatred, addictive online gaming and gambling, and online fraud and deception has become a serious threat for anyone going online.

    In the words of the Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim, "this threat is real."

    According to Rohani, the Malaysian Council For Child Welfare (MKKM) has informed her of suicide and self harm cases involving children due to cyber bullying, as well as addiction to cyber games.

    "This is a serious threat, but we often choose to 'brush aside'. The children at a very tender age have been exposed to these dangers that could even lead to physical harm or depression," she told Bernama.

    EMPOWERING CHILDREN

    Naturally, parents too need to be aware of these risks and be actively engaged with their children during their online sessions.

    However, the level of exposure today to the myriad of gadgets that opens the door to the cyber realm has limited the parental capacity to protect their children.

    Children are using mobile phones or other gadgets almost all the time to access digital media, thus making it difficult for parents to monitor these activities.

    UNICEF Senior Child Protection Officer Phenny Kakama stressed that children themselves have to play an important role in online safety.

    The children should be empowered to protect themselves and their peers, while expressing their views on how to mitigate risks.

    "Children need to know of the risks and how to avoid them. They need skills to make informed choices in their cyberspace activities and to provide each other with support," he said.

    Phenny believes that there is also a potential role for children as peer educators, mentors and advisers.

    "Ultimately, however, the onus lies with adults to put in place a framework that ensures a safer online environment," he added.

    RESPONSIBLE AND POSITIVE USE OF THE INTERNET

    With 17.5 million Internet users in the country, educating and equipping parents and children with the necessary knowledge in cyber safety is critical to ensure a safe and positive online experience.

    In line with the National Policy Objectives contained in the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA 1998), the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has been promoting positive use of the internet which includes responsible access to suitable content.

    "We recognize that the vast and ever changing nature of the Internet makes it unrealistic to try and regulate everyone of them. We have always stressed the need for self-regulation by the users," said MCMC Outreach and Engagement Division Head Eneng Faridah Iskandar.

    Through the Klik Dengan BijakTM (KDB) programme, launched in July 2012, MCMC hopes to educate and raise awareness about the safe and positive use of the Internet while reminding the public to be wary of cyber crimes.

    According to Eneng although cases involving children as victim or even perpetrators of serious online crimes were not handled by MCMC, the body did receive a small number of complaints relating to online misuse involving children.

    "In most cases, we will provide advice on how to manage the situation. For your information MCMC has set up the "MCMC Complaints Bureau" to receive and handle complaints with regards to communications and multimedia services," said Eneng.

    Meanwhile, relating to child safety over the cyberspace, the Regional Conference On Child Online Protection (Persidangan Serantau Mengenai Perlindungan Kanak-Kanak Secara Dalam Talian) will be held on March 24 and 25, at the Marriot Hotel Putrajaya.

    Among others the conference aims to educate stakeholders such as parents, schools and NGOs regarding child safety over the cyber realm.

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