MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has on Sunday (10 November 2019) urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to teach in schools the use of social media platforms responsibly, and help address the growing number of young people committing suicide.
The senator made the call for the responsible social media education to be a key component in mental health programs for schools.
He noted that increased social media use and smartphones has been linked to depression and anxiety among children and adolescents.
Gatchalian cited the advice of experts that the use of mobile phones, especially among adolescents, has become risky and exposes children to the downside of technology.
The blue light of smartphones inhibits melatonin production and keeps a person awake at night and when young people are sleep-deprived, they become more prone to having depression and anxiety, according to Dr. Cornelio Banaag Jr. of the Medical City.
“Babala sa atin ng mga eksperto, ang pagbababad sa social media ang isang pangunahing dahilan kung bakit dumarami ang mga kabataang dumaranas ng anxiety at depresyon (A lot of experts have warned that more time spent on social media is one of the primary reasons why most young people are experiencing anxiety and depression),” Gatchalian said.
“Nakakabahala ito lalo na’t nababansagan tayong (This is alarming more so because we are hailed as the) social media capital of the world. Kaya naman mahalagang maituro natin ang wastong paggamit ng internet at social media (That’s why it’s important to teach them how to properly use the Internet and social media),” said the senator who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.
Based on the report from the Department of Health, around 3.3 million Filipinos suffer from depressive disorders.
A 2015 student health survey by the World Health Organization showed that nearly 17 percent of more than 8,000 high school students aged 13-17 in the Philippines have attempted suicide the previous year.
The same study also showed that almost 12 percent of the study’s participants also seriously considered committing suicide.
The department’s health program ‘Oplan Kalusugan (OK) sa DepEd’ started including mental health education.
Gatchalian said that this particular project wants to improve awareness-building and psycho-social intervention program.
The lawmaker also pointed out the need for schools to restore the Good Manners and Right Conduct (GMRC) in their curriculum which can also be another avenue to teach students regarding responsible social media use.
“Dahil hindi nababantayan ang ilang kabataan sa paggamit nila ng Internet, nagkakaroon sila ng destructive and violent behavior (Because kids are hardly supervised when using the Internet, they are prone to destructive and violent behavior),” Gatchalian said.
“Kung gusto nating maging relevant ang panukalang GMRC subject, kailangan suriin natin kung paano tatalakayin ang paggamit ng internet at social media, (If we want GMRC to be a relevant subject, we need to study carefully how we will discuss the ways on how to use the Internet and social media properly),” he said.
Gatchalian also added that since there were only fewer than 100 licensed child psychologists in the state, guidance counselors and teachers would enter capacity-building programs to provide psychological first aid.
“Ang kailangan natin dito ay holistic approach. Kung tuturuan natin ang mga estudyante kung paano maging responsible sa social media at kung paano alagaan ang sarili nila, kailangang siguruhin din natin na ang mga magtuturo ay may sapat at tamang kakayahan para gawin ito, (What we need here us a holistic approach. If we are going to teach students on how to use social media responsibly, then we need to make sure that our teachers are fully equipped and capable of teaching it),” Gatchalian stressed. (Cate Pallarco/IAMIGO/CNS)