Forty-three students in Gelephu, who are members of ‘Young Volunteers in Action (YVIA)’, are creating awareness of online safety.

The students conducted a survey in the locality to study the nature of how much time youth spend online as part of their project ‘We are cyber smart youths’ and found that 55 percent of the respondents used the Internet daily and 53 percent used it for more than an hour daily.

All the 275 respondents were students of classes VII to XII.

The study also found that at least 50 percent of the respondents’ parents did not have a restriction on Internet use.

It also found that some youth said they feel annoyed when their parents check on them while using the Internet.

About 50 percent of the respondents also spent between one to five hours online daily and 20 percent of the youth spend more than five hours online.

“Most of the youth said they liked talking about the Internet with their parents but most parents never bothered about what they do online,” the survey report stated.

It is mostly Facebook, YouTube, online games and Instagram that youth spend time online.

Respondent said some major threats online are bullying or harassment by friends and acquaintances, someone using photos in an inappropriate way, coming across sexual images or content and unwanted sexual approaches in the chatroom, social networking site and emails.

Youth Development Fund’s (YDF) outreach officer, Pema Wangdi, who organized the project for the YVIA said that the main idea was to create awareness on possible Internet dangers and what steps youth could take to protect them online.

The project and survey carried out about a month ago was aimed at allowing children to learn that the Internet can be useful in enhancing their learning and creativity.

It was done through a series of activities like surveys, workshops and dance theatre. “We’ll be editing our videos and broadcast the message through local TV channels,” Pema Wangdi said.

In the activity, the YVIA members in their ‘Let us tell our friends’ campaign reached out to some 150 students of Gelephu LSS, Gelephu HSS and Pelrithang MSS teaching them to stay safe online.

A forum on social media and its effect on the family was also conducted. It involved 30 women from armed forces family support group members in Gelephu and youth workers in Youth Friendly Integrated Service Centre in Gelephu, the outreach officer said.

The programme was supported by YDF in collaboration with UNICEF.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang