MyData4Children is one of the most special workshops in Cambodia ICT Camp 2022 as it was specifically available for children; participants/parents were moved to another room with specific questions for adults. We were delighted to be able to invite 19 children (11 females) to join this workshop led by Jean F. Queralt, CEO of The IO Foundation, and Nhem Piseth, APLE Cambodia.
The workshop began with four questions for the children. The speakers encouraged them to speak up about their insecurity on the internet without fearing exposure to individual privacy because their answers would be anonymously written on post-it notes. The first was about their favorite online activities; most answers were about researching their lessons and connecting with friends. The second question was whether there was anything they could find scary or troublesome on the internet. The popular answers were they were scared strangers would use their pictures to photoshop into something bad and that strangers would do something harmful to them. Another question was what made them angry online, and it was surprising to find out that it was mainly because of inappropriate content and inaccurate information. Last but not least, the things on the internet that made them feel bored were spamming, the inability to find what they wanted on the internet, and spending too much time online. Fellow participants and speakers closely interacted and shared their good and bad experiences online and the prevention related to online grooming.
Being in a relationship with a much older boyfriend or girlfriend, receiving too many comments on the posts from someone, requesting to exchange photos or videos, and getting a lot of messages from someone is another set of yes/no questions asked to the children. The speakers then clarified and explained each issue reasonably on what children needed to be cautious about.
A panel discussion between the speakers and participants/parents took place after the workshop with the children. This time, Dixon Siu, Board Member of MyData Global, co-led the discussion with Jean F. Queralt and Nhem Piseth along with 14 participants/parents (7 females). The primary purpose of the discussion focused on children’s protection and guidance and the challenges parents faced regarding the children’s behavior on internet use.
The case of children online grooming through the connection with parents can also occur in some ways, including complimenting their family and parenting through SNS, asking and showing interest in their children, and trying to establish flirtatious or romantic relationships with parents.
The workshop with participants and parents ended with fruitful discussions on how to keep open communication with children by learning the technology together, being aware of what sensitive information is shared with the school, and asking for children’s consent before posting photos to SNS.
Children are more vulnerable online, so their data and digital experience should be carefully governed and treated differently. In terms of children’s protection, it is parents’ responsibility to do so, yet in the digital world, parents are usually powerless; digital and data literacy play an essential role in the protection. Being relatable and getting close to the children allows them to open up to their parents, so the parents can know what their children are up to, which is better to protect them from online grooming. A participant said, “One should set a timer for children to limit the duration of using their phones and take them outdoors for physical activities.”