Parents warned to be cautious of children’s internet use

VANUATU’s Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) strongly advises parents to be very cautious on their children’s use of internet and to control their children online.

Jackson Miake, ICT Program Manager at OGCIO, said it has come to their attention that many students – especially those studying in years seven and upwards – have Smartphones. And he said around 50-60 per cent of these kids are going online.

“Maybe their parents gave them mobile phones with a reason, to know where their kids are and what they are doing,’’ he said.

“However they must also understand what their kids are doing with these tools.

“When you get a Smartphone, a tablet or a laptop for your kids, as a parent, firstly you have to be responsible and you must know well what is inside these tools.

“And you have to keep track on what kind of activity your children are taking part in when they are using these tools.’’

He said in a survey done by the OGCIO and Telecommunications Regulations Regulator (TRR) issued in 2013 it has found that at Central School, already there are activities that have happened to the kids in school, for example cyber bullying.

He said cyber bullying is when your friends on social media say something bad towards you or swear at you. Another is when strangers are communicating with children on the internet.

Mr Miake referred to Fake IDs or strangers on the internet that online users must be cautious of especially children.

“Therefore when using the internet, you must know the person on the other side. If you don’t know the person on the other side, there is no need to get in touch with them,’’ he said.

“They can wreck your lives from head to toes. We have found that these strangers have been trying to talk with them. They ask where these kids are sleeping, how many brothers and sisters they have or they asked information about the kid’s parents and the kid’s mobile number.’’

Mr Miake said in a research he has done last year, he found that many times these kids when they go online they reveal unnecessary information that shouldn’t be on the internet. This included information like their mobile phone numbers, date of birth, location of their home, who their parents are, and their brothers and sisters.

“When you put your mobile phone number, you have to think first, is it important to put your mobile number on your profile,’’ he said.

“You have to understand that Facebook, according to its user guidelines, is for those who are 16 years and upwards. But many times you go on Facebook you find children who should not be on Facebook. This means that they have broken a guideline to use social media because they are under 16 years of age.

“Remember that if someone doesn’t like you, already they have known your mobile number, your home, who your brothers and sisters are and your parents.

“This is all very important information and there are other people who can be online and can take advantage of this information and use this information to attack us again.

“Parents must be very careful and responsible for our kids when they go online.”