How digital empowerment can help protect students, youth online

Published March 25, 2021, 5:07 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

More and more children are staying online for longer periods of time due to the restrictions brought about by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation in the country.

(JANSEN ROMERO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Recognizing the urgent need to strengthen the digital skills of students, teachers, and parents to enable them to identify, address, and avoid the risks present in the current digital space, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and Globe teamed up to promote online safety and security among children and the youth.

Through a “Training of Trainers (TOT)” workshop of their Digital Thumbprint Program (DTP), UNICEF and Globe hoped to reach more internet users and help them become more responsible digital citizens.

The DTP aims to increase students’ knowledge of digital citizenship and cybersafety by taking a critical look at their online behavior and helping them develop insights into the influences of the online world and the choices they are making.

The training aims to create DTP champions among UNICEF staff and partners who can then cascade skills to their peers and networks on the five (5) DTP modules: Digital Insight, Digital Impact, Digital Discernment, Digital Ambition, and the Parent Module.

More than 120 officers and staff participated from the Department of Education (DepEd) Alternative Learning System Task Force, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development, Tambayan Center for Children’s Rights, Break The Silence National Network, Inc. and Share An Opportunity Philippines.

While the training was conducted towards the tail-end of 2020, the relationship between Globe and UNICEF has been a long-standing and fruitful one – such as speakerships in Globe’s Global Filipino Teachers Series: DTP webinar with the Department of Education (DepEd) attended by roughly 3,000 teachers and DepEd officials; and the inclusion of UNICEF child online safety content in the DTP modules to teach children (and their parents) how to protect themselves against online sexual exploitation and abuse (OSAEC).

“The threat of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown required a quick pivot from all industries, and the education sector had to grapple with preparing teachers, parents, and students to turn to online learning,” Globe Chief Sustainability Officer and SVP for Corporate Communications Yoly Crisanto said. “We continuously aim to widen the positive societal impact that DTP has been making through the years,”  she added.

Meanwhile, UNICEF Child Protection chief Patrizia Benvenuti shared that while internet offers “tremendous opportunities as it helps children learn, play and connect” which is even more amplified at this time of the pandemic, there are also risks.

“We also must understand that the caring community that surrounds the childlike parents and teachers, needs opportunities to access new skills and understanding, in order for them to support children have a safe and positive experience online, protected from risks and harm,” she added.

 
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