Protect children from ugly side of Internet
One of the challenges of the new information and communication technology is its negative effects on the young and impressionable.
While the technology is essential for social and mental development of children, it has too many pitfalls that may cause serious harm to both children and society, as the recent Consolata School pupil case illustrates.
For one, the digital technology is prone to misuse. For the young and curious, the digital world provides an endless source of information and material that can be detrimental to their behaviour, psychological health and world view.
Online platforms are also full of treacherous traps and dark vaults to which children can be lured into by irresponsible adults and cyber criminals. The traps and vaults range from the mildly naughty to the toxic.
What makes the cyberspace particularly dangerous is that adults are, like the young, groping in the dark.
Most parents, teachers and policy makers do no not fall in the category of the so-called digital natives, meaning they are bewildered, if not totally ignorant, about the Internet world.
That means children are virtually on their own in attempts to discover themselves and the world via the Internet.
The results can be disastrous if the increasing cases of anti-social conduct exhibited by children and youth are anything to go by.
Many children are silent victims of cyberbullying, while others have fallen into the traps set by criminals.
Cases abound of children and young adults dying after following online prompts of what is supposed to be a game but which, in reality, is a suicide mission.
It is such incidents that should be a wake-up call to parents, learning institutions and policy-makers to shield children from the ugly side of the Internet.
For parents and teachers, they have to be the first regulators on what, when and where their children access the Internet.
But to effectively do that, they have to be adequately acquainted with the digital tools and content. For the policy makers, they have a duty to put in place laws and regulations that ensure children and young adults can still enjoy the good side of the Internet without falling prey to its monstrous side.
This should include systems to rehabilitate youth entrapped by the Internet.