By Prof. Rom Feria
In a November 9, 2018 Manila Bulletin article, “DepEd launches #BeCyberSafe”, the Department of Education (DepEd) partnered with Stairway Foundation and Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines (IMMAP) for the #BeCyberSafe program. The program has three (3) components: (1) Project for Keeps; (2) Dalir-Eskwela; and (3) Chatbot, which aim to help students address online issues, e.g. cyberbullying, online pornography, etc. Whilst the program is sound on paper, the devil is in the details, so to speak.
The program, at least as published, has a huge component that involves Facebook. And this component is what is questionable, and directly puts kids in danger. Why?
I do not know if the DepEd officials are living under a rock or something, but Facebook is deep in issues in data privacy, misinformation, helping in the distribution of hate, psychological manipulation, etc., and despite numerous research publications on the negative effects of Facebook, specially to children, DepEd continues to, for lack of better term, promote its use.
For a rundown of why Facebook is bad for children, or to anyone in general, I highly recommend checking out https://stallman.org/facebook.
• University of Houston study links Facebook use to depressive symptoms.
• Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults
• Study links frequent Facebook use to eating disorders.
• Harvard Business Review featured, “A New, More Rigorous Study Confirms: The More You Use Facebook, the Worse You Feel”
• The Guardian reported, “Facebook’s ‘dark side’: study finds link to social aggressive narcissism”
Again, these are just some of the studies published. If DepEd did its homework, it should have, at least, questioned the use of Facebook in schools in the first place. Remember that it has been established that Facebook engineered their product to make it addictive, and kids are prone to this kind of addiction. If DepEd can ban smoking for its negative health impact, why can’t they ban Facebook, or better yet, all social media access? If you are a parent in one of these schools that use this program, you are better off just banning your kids from having social media accounts until they are adults, and whilst you are at it, complain schools that force parents and children to have Facebook accounts just so they can receive official announcements.
I call on the DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones — Ma’m, please protect our children by keeping them off of Facebook.