It was Thursday evening in the office. We were having tea and biscuits and discussing our plans for the weekend and the work week ahead.
I had just finished going through the ‘Disrupting Harm in Malaysia’ report, which, among others, stated that an estimated 100,000 internet-using Malaysian children aged 12-17 encountered online child sexual exploitation and abuse in the past year.
The experiences reported by children ranged from grooming, being offered money or gifts in exchange for sexual images, being threatened or blackmailed to engage in sexual acts, and having their images shared without permission.
It was ‘scary’ hearing the findings, and disheartening to learn that most children did not know how to respond, or whom to report to when someone tries to take advantage of them online.
Also, the stigma of being a victim means that the number of cases is likely higher, as most go unreported.
With more and more children going online in the past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there are bound to be those who will try to take advantage.
I am thankful my children and their friends have not encountered these ‘evil persons’.
The home minister and I have had several discussions about online safety with our kids, and they, in turn, have had similar conversations with their friends.
We trust them to be honest with us, although there were times we had to stop them from watching YouTube channels due to the ‘colourful’ language.
We also monitor their games or applications to ensure ‘strangers’ do not try to chat them up.
One good thing about censorship in this country is that it is next to impossible to access explicit adult content.
That is not to say it is not out there, but as parents, we must educate our children on the dos and don’ts of online behaviour.
While sipping tea, my colleague Hanafiah Nordin said his sister uses Google Family Link (GFL) to control the online devices in her home.
For those who have not heard about it, GFL helps parents “stay in the loop” as their children explore the World Wide Web on their Android devices. GFL lets parents set certain digital ground rules for their family.
Hanafiah said he knows of some parents who use GFL to control their children’s devices by turning off access to the Wi-Fi.
“You can set a new password and only give it to your children when they have finished their school work or chores,” said Hanafiah. “You can also set a time limit for how long they can be online.
“However, you still need to look at the settings of each app, as there is only so much GFL can do. But it is a good start.”
Limiting children’s time online will also help them communicate better, instead of burying their noses in their devices.
Studies have shown that, apart from schoolwork, children aged five to 17 should limit their online experience to between two and three hours each day.
DEATH TALLY DROPS TO BELOW 30
There were 29 Covid-19 deaths in the past week, the first time since June 25-July 1 that we had less than 30 fatalities in a week (26).
That brought the total number of fatalities to 36,374.
The bad news is that for the first time since the middle of August, there were more new cases (12,589) than recoveries (12,508).
Since 2020, there have been 4,840,879 Covid-19 infections. Of that number, 4,778,736 have beaten the coronavirus.
Worldwide, there are 622,928,752 cases, and 6,549,217 fatalities.
BANOFFEE FRIDGE CAKE
Banoffee pie tastes better the day after you make it. So, why not try this recipe?
ZERO GRAVITY FOOTBALL
The FIFA World Cup is a month away, but on Wednesday, former Portuguese superstar Luis Figo created a bit of history by playing football in zero gravity.
It broke the Guinness World Record for the highest altitude football game on a parabolic flight.
Deepavali is around the corner, and if you do not feel like baking cakes, cookies, or tarts, here’s an alternative from Cheeky Monkeys 3.
American rapper Coolio – real name Artis Leon Ivey Jr – died three days ago. He was known for his hit single Gangsta’s Paradise.
Although I was not a fan of his, many of my friends expressed shock.
So for all of them, here is Coolio’s most famous song.
Until next week, stay safe.