Girl promotes safe spaces online

3 February 2021

Hanna is raising awareness among her peers of the risks and benefits of using the internet.

Hanna admits that she first started using the internet when she was 9 years old. Not so long ago, 9-year-olds were not able to navigate the internet unlike today where they can use and even own gadgets for gaming, social media, and learning.

Hanna uses her cellphone and computer for 5 to 7 hours a day. She shares that her favorite applications are Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, alongside education-related applications. She shared that her parents know about only 10% of her online activity.

“It is important to know even the basics of using the internet to use it responsibly and in order for us to prevent and avoid possible risks and hazards not just for ourselves but for others too,” she shared.

Hanna admits that she has felt unsafe online and has thought of leaving the internet. “Yes, especially at times when I feel that it is being more disruptive rather than being helpful for my well-being,” she shares.

“There were a lot of incidents where I didn’t feel safe on the internet. I experienced horrible things such as receiving online sexual harassment, cyberbullying, online stalking, and attempted hacking of my social media accounts.”

Hanna has been a part of Plan International Philippines’ projects since May 2018. It was a gender awareness session that paved the way for her to join Plan International Philippines’ campaigns.

“At that time, I only had a little information about Plan International and the only thing that I am certain is that it is a Non-Government Organisation that promotes and protects the rights of children and youth. I was also given another opportunity to join the Cyber Safe Spaces Project as one of the youth facilitators. I was thankful and honored that I was trusted to be one of the representatives of the youth in our community.”

Hanna shares the things she learned as an advocate for Plan International Philippines’ Cybersafe Spaces Project. “The Internet is good and very useful especially in this digital age but it also has drawbacks depending on its usage. We should be responsible for everything that we do online as they may have positive or negative impacts on other people.

“The Internet should be a safe space for everyone, especially for children and youth. Online and sexual abuse and exploitation of children and other malicious acts online should never ever be tolerated and should be strongly condemned. All of us have a role in preventing and addressing it. Be an agent of change, let us promote cyber safe spaces for everyone.”

Hanna dreams and hopes for a day where strong monitoring and regulations on internet use are implemented to keep children and young people like her safe online.

Protection from violence, Youth empowerment, Gender-based violence, girls’ leadership