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Originally posted at loQal Home and Living by Alexander Villafania

The Internet is fast becoming an essential educational tool for children, with more households purchasing computers  and getting broadband connection. Some parents even prefer their kids spending more time on computers than watching TV, with the assumption that they are really using their computers for school-related work.

A recent report by Yahoo! Philippines and Nielsen – in fact, a follow up to their 2009 report on Internet usage in the Philippines – indicated that Internet usage at home has been in the upward trend especially as more households get connected.

A section of the Yahoo!-Nielsen report indicated that an increase in the number of  Filipino children below 15 years of age are already using the Internet. Majority of use is still on email and messaging but information search is also increasing. The types of material being accessed are largely photos and videos.

The ubiquity of computers and the Internet, as well as the relative freedom of accessing virtually any type of material also comes with certain dangers. These can be in the form of malicious content files, online stalkers, and pornography. Many unscrupulous individuals prey on unknowing victims, especially children.

A report by online news organization E-Commerce Times in 2007 stressed that more children are being exposed to online porn and their age of the demographics that access such material is getting younger – less than 12 years old.

Closer to home, a 2009 report published by Sunstar noted on a research by Share-A-Child Movement that child pornography in Cebu has increased and many of these practices are on cybersex.  Some of the victims are actually lured online prior to becoming victims of child pornography themselves.

Senators Loren Legarda and Jamby Madrigal have been championing the protection of kids against online threats. There are also organizations that have called for action against online pornography in the Philippines, including the United Nations Children’s Fund. This pressure resulted in the passage of Republic Act 9775 or Anti-Child Pornography Law of 2009, which covers all forms of media for porn distribution, including the Internet.

But just as the old adage goes: protection of children starts at home. Responsibilities of parents do not end when children are given free access to any content on the Web. In fact, as with all types of learning, parents must take initiative to tell their children the benefits and risks of using the Internet.

Read the rest of the article at loQal Home and Living