Padilla to push for law protecting youth from too much Intenet

Senatorial aspirant and public health advocate Dr. Minguita Padilla sees the need to pass a legislation that would protect the youth against a wide range of media content detrimental to their mental health.

Senatorial candidate Dr. Minguita Padilla

The youth, according to Padilla, are among the heaviest consumers of digital information via the Internet.

If elected as senator, Padilla said she would file a ‘’Digital Knowledge on Internet Protection’’ bill as part of her proposed laws for the benefit of the younger generations and the general public, who are increasingly finding it difficult to cope with the dark side of technology on top of other social issues.

The career ophthalmologist announced this plan in a public forum she attended together with presidential candidate Panfilo "Ping" Lacson and running mate Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan on Thursday, April 28.

“We are going to pass, hopefully, a Digital Knowledge on Internet Protection Act, especially for the youth. Because you know how to use the internet, but how do you protect yourselves against the dangers of the internet?” Padilla said in a mix of Filipino and English.

According to Dr. Padilla, she has personally encountered a number of young people who struggled with depression and anxiety, among other mental health problems, especially during the height of the Covir-19 pandemic when many citizens either lost their jobs or their loved ones.

‘’Mental health of the youth is very important. We need to pay some attention. We came from a pandemic like it was a war. So, a lot of you (young people) had parents who lost their jobs, who lost their lives... And you had no friends (by your side to talk to). It’s going on,’’ she said.

Earlier during their town hall meeting in Malabon City, Dr. Padilla also mentioned that many young people have been dealing with issues like body shaming, identity theft, cyber bullying and other problems fueled by their intense online engagement, particularly on social media.

‘'Instagram is the worst because a lot of youth believe what they see on Instagram. When they feel like everyone is pretty, more handsome, more skinny, richer or happier (than them). It causes depression, I’m telling you,’’ she added.

Padilla was referring to a 2017 #StatusofMind survey published by the Royal Society for Public Health based in London, United Kingdom, which ranked Instagram as the worst social media network for the mental health of the youth followed by Snapchat and Facebook.

Initially, Dr. Padilla revealed that they plan to combat the negative effects of digital technology using technology itself. They are planning to develop tools and other applications that would make it easier for people to call for help whenever they feel under extreme mental and emotional distress.

‘’We are developing an app for the youth and for the parents, whoever wants to use it, so if you have a problem, and you feel like you can’t take it anymore, you are just going to press a button: ‘I need help now.’ Then someone will come to your aid right away),’’ she explained.

‘’Because according to a lot of the young people I talked to, they feel embarrassed to talk about it. They don’t know where to go. So, we have an app, you’re just going to press it. All the support groups you selected will call you. ‘I need help now’—it only uses 3G technology, not necessarily 4G,’’ she explained.

Padilla also mentioned she would keep advocating for climate justice, noting that it will be the members of the youth sector, who will inherit the Philippines as a country in a world that is becoming more and more vulnerable to extreme environmental hazards.