Marketing and Media Relations Coordinator
The Social Development Department is warning parents and guardians to be vigilant with their children with too much screen time, particularly watching YouTube in light of a suicide game reportedly disguised as innocent children programming.
Acting Head of Family Children and Protective Services Unit within the Social Development Department, Ms. Laurel Freeman said programmes like Peppa Pig which are geared towards a young audience, are being hacked by inappropriate clips by a character called ‘Momo’. This character encourages children to harm themselves with sharp objects such as knives and razors.
Ms. Freeman said parents in the Virgin Islands should be extremely concerned as the limited television access since the passage of the hurricanes has placed an enormous demand on screen time including hand held devices such as cellphones, video games, tablets, kindles.
She said, “It is very easy to allow our children to watch programmes and/or without proper supervision and because the programmes are being watched on small devices, we are even more tuned out.”
Ms. Freeman added, “We understand that the devices act to provide entertainment while parents are multi-tasking. But we cannot let/allow our children to be consumed by these internet programmes We should always be present when children are using cellphones, tablets, kindles and other electronic devices.”
She further added that parents and guardians should view programmes they have chosen with their children to reinforce the educational aspects of the programme. This interaction she said also helps to build bonds with our children and promote healthy family interaction.
The following are tips from the Social Development Department for parents to consider:
1. Always monitor what your children watch on electronic devices.
2. Set clear rules about device usage and time and implement them. A limit of two hours per day is the recommended amount of time.
3. Engage in more family activities together.
4. Encourage interaction by socialising and learning from the environment
5. Encourage more reading through books.
The public is encouraged to call the Social Development Department at telephone numbers 468-3636 for more information.
The Ministry of Health and Social Development aspires to provide a caring and integrated system of health and social services that facilitates human development and improves the quality of life in the Virgin Islands.