Do Filipino Kids Start Using Mobile Phones Too Young?
Earlier this week, UNICEF published their annual The State of The World’s Children report for 2017, which specifically focused on children in the digital age, and how “digital technology is affecting children’s lives and life chances, identifying dangers as well as opportunities.” The report took global and regional data and perspectives into account to evaluate how kids use the Internet today.
The Philippines, unsurprisingly, featured heavily in UNICEF’s report, especially with regards to child safety and susceptibility to online sexual abuse. The local arm of UNICEF released a press release for The State of The World’s Children, highlighting the most alarming of its findings: the Philippines is the number one global source of child pornography, and a hub for the livestream sexual abuse trade. They also noted that eight out of 10 Filipino children are at risk of online sexual abuse or cyberbullying—which, really, is eight too many.
While UNICEF Philippines did note that there have been positive developments in terms of national legislature and local community engagement, they also outlined recommendations for more effective policy-making and responsible business practices to protect children from online sexual abuse.
Among the statistics and figures that factored into The State of The World’s Children 2017 was one from a separate study by GSMA from 2015, which found that in the Philippines, the most common age for a child to own a mobile phone was 10 years old. This study also found that 85 percent of all children they surveyed use their mobile phones to access the Internet; and that the Philippines has the highest proportion of children who use tablets, at 76 percent. Suffice it to say that our kids are highly connected.
UNICEF’s The State of The World’s Children 2017 also noted that children worldwide are increasingly part of a “bedroom culture,” which means that more and more kids access the Internet privately, on their smartphones or tablets, in their bedrooms, without supervision. Altogether, these findings speak to the vulnerability of Filipino kids in particular, and ask us, as adults, to be careful about what our children do online.