Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Online Child Safety In I-Cafés

Online child safety in i-cafés is a sub-theme of the Second Mindanao Internet Café Associations Summit (2nd MICAS) which will be held on February 18 and 19, 2010 at The Event Centre of SM City in Davao City.  While the subject is overused or even abused by so many organizations, the organizers of 2nd MICAS decided to go on and have it as a sub-theme and be a topic of discussion on the second day of the summit. I-Café Pilipinas and its co-organizer, the Internet Café Association of Davao (ICAD) Inc. believe that no amount of discussions can make online child safety as passé. The importance of the subject on the development of the minds of current young online computer users will not make it a redundant topic even if discussed in forums many times over.

We recognize the fact that ECPAT International has the elimination of child prostitution, child pornography and the trafficking of children for sexual purposes as its prime objective. Also, many local government units already have ordinances aimed at preventing access to pornographic sites thereby protecting the young customers of i-cafés as they enter the premises and use the internet for their education and entertainment. The Philippines, as a nation has recently passed the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 which we fully support except for its provision mandating web filtering at ISP level. The question is, are these initiatives and measures enough to protect the children online?

We may differ in our opinions on how can we assure the safety of the children going online. Anti-pornography filters and the like may do its work of preventing the children from accessing unwanted sites but is this enough? Should we allow the children to access and play those violent hackenslash online games? Must you just allow them to do social networking with people they meet online? Isn't parental watch and guidance needed as the children surf the net? These and many more question on online child safety will be the issues that the participants of the 2nd MICAS will discuss so please come and share us your views on the subject.

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