Session 1.3: Common online platforms used by children

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The applications you use online and the websites you enter are likely very different from those your children use. There are many different ways your child may be using the internet for – learning about new topics and looking for information, socializing with friends, watching videos, playing games and more. New applications, online games and websites are being developed rapidly, making it very hard to keep up with all the changes and updates. It becomes difficult to know what children do on the internet on a daily basis.  

So, what do children spend their time online doing? 

Best thing to do is ask you child! But we collected here a few common activities that children often spend their online time doing. 

From recent research held by APLE on children’s online use, it was seen that most children in Cambodia spend their time on specific platforms which include – social media, communication platforms, gaming communities and video and live streaming applications.  

Most of the platforms used for children’s online use can be risky at times but being aware of the risks is one of the first ways of managing the online threats.  

Let’s take a look at all these platforms for a better understanding on them and see when is it safe for children and when are there risks.  

Social media  

What is it? Social media refers to websites and applications that allow us to share content with others. This content includes images, news-clips, videos, different interests, information and more. It is a platform where people can socialize and network online while expressing themselves in an interactive way. Most social media users will have a personal profile where they can share content within a social community of friends or people with similar interests. 

Popular social media applications: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

What are the risks?  Social media profiles often contain a lot of personal information which can be taken advantage of by online offenders and expose children to grooming. The content uploaded is not always regulated and children can often be exposed to content which is inappropriate.  

What you can do – Talk to your child about the importance of being critical about the people they add as friends and followers, setting privacy settings so that only close friends can see their personal information, and to be careful about uploading personal information online and knowing how to block content and avoid entering links from unknown sources that can put them at risk.   

Online communication platforms 

What is it? Platforms that allow direct communication with other individuals or groups via text, voice or video messages. Communication platforms can be connected directly to social media platforms or used separately on their own. 

Popular communication platforms: FB Messenger, WhatsApp, Line, Telegram

What are the risks? Communication platforms often allow private contact with other users. The private communication creates a ground for inappropriate and unsolicited messages that can be sexual and harmful in nature. Online it is easy for person to disguise themselves as someone they are not, and manipulate different information to befriend a child. This is taken advantage of by offenders who want to gain access to children easily and communicate with them directly without detection.    

What you can do – Talk to your child about the importance of being critical about the people they communicate with, recognize suspicious signs where a person may be acting in a way that can harm them, and knowing how to block and report people who can be offensive online.  

Gaming platforms 

What is it? Online games serve as an interactive platform where players can interact with each other and play. 

Popular online games: Mobile Legend Bang Bang (MLBB), Rules of Survivor, Attack Online (AK2), Player Unknown’s Battleground (PUBG), Grand Theft Auto V (GTA5)

What are the risks? Since many online games allow interaction with other players, some online offenders will use these platforms for initial communication with children. Having the game as a common interest allows offenders to start conversations related to the game to gain the child’s trust and convince then try to befriend them. Online games also often contain violent and sexual content unfitting of age. 

What you can do – Most online games have different ratings which show from what age are they appropriate for children. Make sure you are aware of what games your child is playing and if it is suitable for their age to make sure they are not exposed to inappropriate content. Discuss the dangers of communicating with strangers through online games. 

Video and live streaming applications 

What is it? Video and live streaming applications enable users to watch and take videos while broadcasting it live. Some applications even allow exchange of money or other forms of payment for videos that are made and broadcasted.  

Popular live streaming applications: YouTube, Tik Tok, Snapchat

What are the risks? The possibility of paying for a video allows offenders to take advantage of children and exploit them and make them perform in front of a camera to as they will. Furthermore, since there is no way to screen live videos, children can be exposed to inappropriate material while watching others broadcasting live videos, or easily upload videos which may be too revealing that can place them at risk, with the intention of receiving more likes and followers. 

What you can do – Discuss the risks of uploading videos that may expose them to risks and how anything online may stay there forever and that it is never private so they should think twice before streaming any video. 

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