DICT, DepEd, NTC move to address ‘Momo Challenge’

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Government agencies have issued a call to parents to monitor their children’s use of the Internet as the so-called “Momo Challenge”, an alleged suicide challenge targeting children and adolescents, became viral online.

Photo credit: Rollingstone.com

“Momo” allegedly led an 11-year-old child to commit suicide through online dares and threats. According to accounts, the challenge manipulates children to keep the matter to themselves or they will face certain consequences.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said it has called for a meeting of the Committee for the Special Protection of Children on Friday, March 1, to immediately address the issue.

Among the invited members are the Department of Justice, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the Philippine National Police.

Within its powers as the regulatory agency in the telecommunications industry, the NTC can direct Internet service providers to block websites being used to perpetuate harmful content as well as the commission of cybercrime like online harassment.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), on the other hand, has encouraged parents to play an active role in safeguarding their children.

The DICT Cybersecurity Bureau said it is monitoring the situation and will continue to look into policy and technical remedies to address the issue.

“We will continue our efforts in making the 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,” Acting DICT secretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr. said.

Allan S. Cabanlong, assistant secretary for cybersecurity and emerging technologies at DICT, echoed Rio’s statement, saying they will continue their effort on conducting digital parenting conferences.

“It is our fervent hope that parents play an active role in monitoring their kids online as the greatest influence to children is not the government nor the schools, it’s them- the parents,” Cabanlong said.

The DepEd also reminded parents to be more mindful and attentive to the digital activities of their children.

“Parents and guardians are urged to maintain an open communication with their children, educate them about responsible online behavior, monitor what they access online, and help them understand that their parents and guardians are the foremost people they can trust about matters that make them feel uncomfortable, coerced, or unsafe,” the agency said.

DepEd said it equips learners with the proper competencies that enable them to discern online issues, threats, and information authenticity.

“While it is disconcerting that such corruption of the young is becoming rampant in varying schemes, the Department, parents, teachers, stakeholders, and the community should stand and act united in protecting the youth from the many risks associated with the use of and presence in the internet,” it said.

“Distorted efforts meant to prey on the vulnerabilities of the youth should be resisted with proper guidance and education and by empowering the children with knowledge of their rights and responsibilities online and offline.”

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