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CONFRONTING 'MOMO CHALLENGE' / DepEd advises elders to track digital activities of kids.

The Department of Education (DepEd) urged parents to be more mindful and attentive to the digital activities of children especially in the wake of the so-called 'Momo challenge' and other online challenges that reportedly lead to self-harm and suicide among the youth.

Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones said that the Department is consistent with its vision of zero tolerance against all forms of abuse, exploitation, discrimination, bullying, and other forms of violence against 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,' Briones said.

The Momo Challenge is a virtual game played on the messaging app WhatsApp, Facebook, and YouTube. The initial point of contact happens through WhatsApp where the child is given instructions (the 'challenge') that result to self-harm.

'Momo,' the character with bug-like eyes, then warns the kids that if they fail to do the challenge, she will put a curse on them. It is similar to the Blue Whale challenge that made the rounds online in 2015.

She said that in school, the Department emphasizes with the learners that their online safety is just as important as their physical safety through age-appropriate and contextualized lesson plans that enable them to still appreciate the internet as a safe and enjoyable platform of learning.

'DepEd also equips learners with the proper competencies that enable them to discern online issues, threats, and information authenticity through 21st century skills that are honed across all grade levels in all subject areas in the K to 12 Curriculum,' she added.

For instance, critiquing data and information skill is already being developed among learners from Grade 1 to Senior High School in subjects like Filipino and English. Media and information literacy (MIL) skills are likewise being sharpened among learners as early as Grade 4, specifically in the subject Edukasyong Pantahanan at Pangkabuhayan. In Grades 11 and 12, skills that aim to cultivate creative and critical thinking among learners, thereby enabling them to handle online contents, are given utmost priority in the core subject MIL and the applied subject Empowerment Technologies.

Furthermore, DepEd said that it continues to strengthen the implementation of its Child Protection Policy by emphasizing on online safety as one of the crucial components of the measure.

The education chief stressed that 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.'

'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,' she said.

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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Feb 28, 2019
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