It is up to parents and the community to guide children on how to use technology responsibly, even when the adult does not understand the social media platform being used, an international expert said.
This information was shared with parents, teenagers, representatives of local ministries and organisations in two workshops held on Saturday and Monday at the National Council for Children headquarters in the central Mahe district of Bel Air.
The session on 'Internet Safety and Child Protection: Challenges, Trends and Best Practices' and 'Defining and Creating Digital Citizenship Education Frameworks and Policy Guidelines' were delivered by American Elizabeth Milovidov.
Milovidov is an independent expert on digital parenting, children's rights, and internet for the Council of Europe (CoE) as well as a member of the CoE Expert Working Group on Digital Citizenship Education.
"Parents do not have to be afraid because they do may not know the technology or what that social media site is about. Parents have the experience, background and maturity to still guide their children even if they do not understand Tik Tok, Snapchat or Instagram. They do not need to know all of these details, they just need to be present," Milovidov told the press.
Describing the situation in Seychelles as "not bad at all", the expert said that during the two days she has "heard a lot about cyberbullying and happy slapping and I was a little surprised to hear about children and young people looking up tutorials on how to put a hex or love potions."
"I think that these things are also natural and normal, and parents need to be there to answer those questions so that children don't go and search online for things that are just far beyond their maturity and experience. It is really for us as parents to guide our children. It is a job for us as a community to do," she said.
The director for communication and events at the National Council for Children (NCC), Sharon Meriton-Jean, said that the workshop on Saturday "was an eye-opener".
"It gave us an international perspective such as apps that we do not have here in Seychelles, programmes that children in other countries watch but ours don't. We also learned settings that we can put on phones so that others cannot have access to it," said Meriton-Jean.
She added that the council's hands are sometimes tied when in cases regarding cyberbullying and cannot advise parents on what to do as "we need more regulations, laws, and policies that protect children in the digital world."
The second workshop on 'Defining and Creating Digital Citizenship Education Frameworks and Policy Guidelines' was done in collaboration with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
Participants learned about Digital Citizenship, the ability to engage positively, critically and competently in the digital environment, drawing on the skills of effective communication and creation, and practice forms of social participation. All these need to be done by being respectful of human rights and dignity through the responsible use of technology.
Milovidov said that Digital Citizenship should not be confused with internet safety, which is just the responsible and safe use of the internet.
Following Monday's workshop, a participant from DICT, Julian Chetty, said that sensitisation is the way forward.
"We need to sensitise our youth because technology is a global occurrence and it is difficult for a government to control it. By creating awareness and sensitising, you can educate people on what is right and wrong," said Chetty.