Centre opened to protect youth from online threats

The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security has set up a coordinating centre to promote and protect youth from online threats which is known as COPAT or Child Online Protection Action Thailand.

The biggest online threat against youth is online gambling, especially soccer gambling, said Mr Vitat Techaboon, director-general of Youth Affairs Department. COPAT conducted an opinion survey on the situation of online threats against Thai youth among 10,846 youth in 9-18 years old age group who are mostly in their high school during November-December last year, said Dr Srida Tanta-atipanit, managing director of Internet for Thai Development Foundation.

The results of the survey are follows: 98.47 percent of the respondents admit internet is useful while, at the same time, 95.32 percent of them admit they are aware of the threats and risks in various forms from the internet such as sexual violations, bullying, fraud, intimidation, deception, abuse of personal information, online gambling and addiction to online games.

61.39 percent believe that they are safe from bullying or sexual violations; 69.92 percent believe their peers are able to deal with online threats; 77.90 percent believe they are capable of helping their friends who face online threats.

Citing the survey results, Dr Srida said parents should assess whether they have enough safeguards against the threats to their children.

In the meantime, she said COPAT could step in to help by providing the youth with proper tool to protect themselves and organizing campaign to create awareness among the online users about the online threats and how to protect themselves or to help them create a network of friends help friends.

The survey also shows that 80.48 percent of the respondents have played online games with males are vulnerable to get addicted to online games than females; 50.73 percent admit they play online games every day or almost every day compared to females who admit they play 1-2 times within a week.

46.11 percent admit they used to be bullied online with females more susceptible at 59.44 percent. 33.44 percent admit they used to bully the other people online while 68.07 percent admit they have come across content about sex and 15.97 percent say they used to have appointments with their online friends through Facebook or Line chats.

Less than half of the respondents tell the events which happened online to their friends first instead of their parents or adults.

Dr Srida said the information gleaned from the survey has provided her with a picture of the situation and problems associated with the use of online service among youth which will be helpful to the government in drawing up policy or measures to deal with the problems of youth and their exposure to online services.

She noted that this kind of survey had never been conducted in this country before and it should be treated as a gift for youth on the occasion of National Children’s Day.