Hanoi, June 6, 2021 – Department of Children – Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, Management and Sustainable Development Institute (MSD) and Child Rights Governance Network (CRG) conduct an online talk show “SNET – Properly Online, Happy Summer” with the support of Save the Children. The event is within the framework of Action Month for Children 2021 with the theme “Joining hands to ensure the implementation of children’s rights – Protecting children during natural disasters and epidemics”.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, children have been experiencing a special summer: no travel, no outdoor activities, no hanging out with friends, etc. and they can only stay indoors. When they are at home a lot and face-to-face interaction is lacking, children tend to use the internet more than they do during the school year. Besides the positive aspects, excessive use of the internet also adversely affects children’s physical and mental health. Children are also at risk of insecurity on the internet, such as being scammed, passwords and personal information being stolen, being harassed, abused, bullied online, etc. Because children do not have sufficient knowledge about the internet, it will be difficult for them on their own to identify the risks and dangers to prevent them.
The talk “SNET – Properly Online, Happy Summer” was broadcasted at 15:00 on Fanpage: MSD Vietnam, National Child helpline and Spreading Love to share with parents and custodians knowledge and ways to protect and support children’s creative and healthy interactions in cyberspace. The talk show featured the following speakers:
– Ms. Nguyen Thi Nga – Deputy Director of the Department of Children, Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs
– Mr. Hoang Minh Tien – Deputy Director of Information Security Department, Ministry of Information and Communications
– Ms. Nguyen Phuong Linh – Director of MSD, Expert in Digital Skills Education
– Mr. Le Xuan Duc – Owner of the Facebook fanpage “Bo Con Sau”
Under the coordination of Ms. Tran Van Anh – Program Director of MSD Institute, the speakers shared the activities and efforts of stakeholders to build a healthy online environment for children and ways for parents and custodians to accompany their children to use the internet safely and effectively.
(Mr. Hoang Minh Tien – Deputy Head of the Department of Information Security)
The national program to protect and support children to interact healthily and creatively on the internet – To do this, it needs the cooperation of all stakeholders, especially families.
On June 1, the Prime Minister signed Decision No. 830/QD-TTg approving the program to protect and support children to interact healthily and creatively in the online environment for the period 2021-2025. Sharing more about the Program, Mr. Hoang Minh Tien said: “This is the first time we have a national action plan to protect children on the internet. The program has some special features: First, it is an interdisciplinary, multi-disciplinary program with the participation of all child stakeholders from the government, state management agencies, civil society organizations (CSOs), families, schools, etc. It can be said that this is a joint effort of the whole system to support and protect children. Secondly, the program focuses on children, and we want to be able to provide children with a digital skillset – a set of digital immunity that helps children to interact in a healthy and protected cyber environment.”
Regarding the problem of much harmful content spreading on the internet today, Mr. Tien shared: “We estimate that 99% of the content is censored before being posted on online channels. However, content censorship is also coordinated between the platform and the authorities. In addition, we also have a responsibility to raise awareness and ethics for users and children in the online environment. Content producers must pay attention that the content must be suitable for the child’s psychology and physiology, following Vietnam’s fine customs and traditions. What I also want to emphasize is the role of the family as a shield for the child.”
(Ms. Nguyen Thi Nga – Deputy Head of the Department of Child Affairs)
Sharing about the application of the national program in child protection practice, Ms. Nguyen Thi Nga said: “The content of child protection in the online environment is one of the programs that the Department of Child Affairs cares about. Recently, the Department of child affairs has received many inquiries, especially in May alone, there were 40 calls related to child abuse in the online environment, and there were also more than 30 calls to report online channels and clips with inappropriate content for children. This information was quickly transferred by helpline 111 to the authorities for immediate processing. With the approval of the national program, surely the coordination among stakeholders, especially of a network to rescue and protect children in the online environment, will be more effective, faster, and more drastic. It will not only rely on the efforts of state management agencies but also CSOs, social work centers, businesses, communities, families, and schools. Many different channels, organizations, and individuals, even if they are not yet in the network, provided that they have recommendations or encounter inappropriate content, they are responsible for reporting to contribute to child protection in the online environment.”
(Mr. Le Xuan Duc – Owner of Fanpage “Bo con Sau”)
Commenting on establishing the network, Mr. Le Xuan Duc said: “As a parent, knowing about the national program and the network, I am impressed because the approach is to respect children’s rights and have programs to support parents to accompany their children. At the same time, as a content creator, I see that content creators need to be responsible for acquiring knowledge or seeking help from experts in developing educational programs that have positive aesthetics, and good direction so that the young generation, such as our children, can enjoy.”
(Ms. Nguyen Phuong Linh – Executive Director of MSD)
Ms. Nguyen Phuong Linh – Director of MSD shared: “For the national program to be successful, the role of children and families is significant. First of all, parents need to know how to respect their children’s right to use the internet. As per the spirit of the National Program, families play the role of accompanying children so that children can interact creatively and healthily in the online environment. Instead of just waiting for state management agencies to “purify” the online environment, children and families can be proactive in learning and building knowledge and skills, creating resistance to protect themselves against malicious information, inappropriate, misleading programs, or online scams. In addition, families can use their soft power to report inappropriate channels and programs to eliminate these programs. Without demand, there will be a decrease in supply.”
In addition, Ms. Linh also shared useful information with families: “If we want to remove inappropriate programs, instead of massively criticizing, it will lead to AI – artificial intelligence software of the platform mistakenly thinking that we care about this topic and will show more. Therefore, we should talk more about good and positive things on the network, helping those content get popular – that’s a way of natural “purification” of the user.”
Accompanying children to “properly online, happy summer” cannot be superficial
During the discussion, the speakers also shared and answered questions from the audience watching the Livestream about methods and ways to accompany their children in the online environment
Mr. Le Xuan Duc shared, “I do not forbid my children to watch the Internet, Youtube, but I will accompany them by letting them watch for a certain period and consider the channels they will be able to watch. Today’s technology platforms and devices allow users to install features to manage their children’s way of using the internet. In addition, parents should talk to their children about the internet more, such as showing them the risks they may encounter on the internet, and what they should do when falling into that situation so that if they do, they will not be confused or bewildered.”
Facebook-er Bo con Sau also talked about an experience of his baby: Once watching an inappropriate program, Duc’s baby was so scared. Then Duc had to talk to his son to relieve his fear and distinguish between shows to watch and not to watch. With this sharing from Duc, many viewers also agreed with their confusion about handling the discovery that their children were watching inappropriate programs.
Agreeing with Duc’s method and giving advice to the audience, expert Nguyen Phuong Linh shared “Accompanying children is critical and cannot be superficial. At every age, parents need to learn how to work with their children. Prohibition is never the solution to protect children because children are born in the digital age. Prohibition often has the opposite effect in that children can be curious and sneaky. Self-learning is more likely to be at risk, and if there is a risk, they do not dare to tell their parents for fear of being scolded. Therefore, it is a prerequisite that parents respect their children, make them learn the benefits and risks of the online environment, and analyze the benefits and harms with their children and how to handle situations to increase their children’s critical thinking.”
Advising parents when catching their children watching inappropriate programs, Ms. Linh advised “Parents should not immediately get angry, overreact, scold their children or confiscate technology devices. Instead, it is necessary to talk calmly, ask your child why he watches inappropriate programs, goes to private chat groups, and how he feels when doing this, etc. Parents should analyze and guide their children to come up with appropriate solutions by themselves. It is the child who solves the problem to have a lasting effect. Of course, if the problem is serious and needs the authorities to intervene, it must be reported immediately to the authorities.”
Answering parents’ questions about not knowing where to learn skills for parents in the digital era, Ms. Nga said, “During the pandemic, it is difficult to have face-to-face classes, but parents also need to equip themselves with knowledge. The Children’s Department and CSOs have also made great efforts to compile a lot of sample documents, manuals, and instructional clips that parents can learn and read from official sources, especially on the Website and Facebook Page of the National Child helpline 111, Television for Children or MSD’s fan pages, Spreading love, etc. In addition, if there are any questions, parents can call the National Child helpline 111 for free 24/7. Besides, there is the 111 application that can also be downloaded, message on the Facebook Page of the National Child helpline 111 or Zalo 111. So there are lots of channels for parents to learn, seek advice and report to help protect their children.”
In addition, the speakers also shared a lot of tools and methods that parents can accompany their children during the summer vacation, such as: talking to their children every day, letting their children do challenges such as using technology to learn about the benefits and risks of the network environment, posing situations of role-playing or dealing with situations that may be encountered in the network environment, making a network safety contract for the whole family, etc. All speakers agreed that both children and families need to learn essential digital skills and knowledge. Regulations on behavior and standards in real life should also be applied to the virtual environment so that children can become standard and responsible digital citizens.
Closing the discussion, Ms. Tran Van Anh – Program Director of MSD shared the message: Children are digital citizens who master technology. Therefore, to have a safe and healthy summer “Properly Online, Happy Summer”, families should apply the SNET formula including: SAFE: Using safe social networks – SMART: Using smart social networks – SUPERB: Let’s build a great social network so that anyone can remember and join hands to create a safe and healthy Internet.
Watch the show here:
Action Month for Children 2021 includes communication activities through mass media, and social media. During Action Month, the Department of Children in collaboration with MSD and CRG Network will regularly share articles, photos, videos, online talks with experts, etc. to provide parents and teachers, and custodians of children with helpful information on topics such as: Caring for children in quarantine, Preventing accidents and injuries for children, Accompanying children to use the internet safely and effectively, Positive Education and Promotion of Children’s Participation in the Family, etc., aiming to bring children a safe and fun summer during the pandemic. The information will be posted on the Fanpage: Spreading Love, National Child helpline, and the group Home Story – Journey with children to grow up.
About Management and Sustainable Development Institute (MSD)
As a Vietnamese non-government organization, MSD acts to enable the environment for the development of the civil society sector and to promote the rights of marginalized groups, especially children, youth, women, and people with disabilities. MSD now is recognized as a leading organization in coordinating, supporting, and providing capacity-building, coaching, and consultancy services for CSOs in Vietnam. It is also a professional organization effectively responding to the needs and protecting the rights of disadvantaged communities, including advancing gender equality, through implementing projects, providing services to children, youth, women, street and migrant groups, and people with disabilities (PWD) in Vietnam and promoting gender equality.
(Ms) Chu Thu Ha – Event and Communication Manager
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