DOH to parents: Check kids’ online habits
The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday appealed to parents to pay close attention to their children and regulate their use of social media following concerns that a challenge that is making the rounds online was allegedly forcing kids to harm themselves as well as their peers.
In an advisory, the DOH said that parents must be more involved in their child’s use of the internet and social media as it expressed concern that the Momo challenge—a mobile game that reportedly orders kids to injure themselves and commit suicide—may seriously affect a child’s mental health.
This is because the “suicide game” reportedly threatens players that their families will be harmed if details of tasks assigned to them are revealed.
“Threat to their families can cause paranoia and continuous exposure may result in depression and anxiety, both of which can encourage suicidal thoughts,” the DOH said in its advisory.
Apart from its use of a sculpture made by Japanese artist Keisuke Aisawa which sports long hair, bulging eyes and a freakish smile, much is still unknown about the game and its origin.
Still, the DOH urged parents to seek help from the National Center for Mental Health if their child exhibits unusual behavior. The center can be reached at 5319001 local 293.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Friday also reminded parents to check the online activities of their children to guard them from potential harm due to the Momo challenge.
She also asked the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and other state agencies to look into reports that the online game was indeed being circulated on the internet to promote violence among children.
The senator issued the statement after an 11-year-old student from Quezon City reportedly killed himself after playing the harmful online challenge.
Hontiveros also reminded parents to be careful in sharing “viral scare stories” in social media to prevent false information from spreading.
Said Hontiveros: “Technology will continue to contextualize our direction as a society so we must urgently respond and find innovative solutions and policies to ensure that the online world is a safe and truthful place for our children to thrive in.”
The DICT, for its part, asked parents to “play an active role in safeguarding their children against a recent harmful online challenge.”
“We will continue our efforts in making cyberspace a safe place, especially for our children but we need the cooperation of the parents. They should be mindful of the activities of their children online,” DICT acting secretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr. said in a statement on Friday.
In its statement, the DICT said its Cybersecurity Bureau was monitoring the situation and would continue to look into policy and technical remedies to address the issue.
For 2019, the Cybersecurity Bureau is planning to hold digital parenting conferences across a number of provinces starting with Cagayan de Oro on April 4.
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