This story was produced under the #WebSafeandWise Media Fellowship by Probe Media Foundation Inc. (PMFI) and ChildFund Philippines. The views and opinions expressed in this piece are not necessarily those of PMFI and ChildFund Philippines.

Tobie Abad, creative director for a software development company confirms, that in the Philippines, there are no guidelines and safeguards for gaming and children and most often than not, it will depend on the client on how “child-safe” games should become. “There are no clear -cut ways to protect children, many corporations / clients do not keep that in mind as a problem but more of an opportunity and they choose to capitalize on these,” Abad said.

As responsible game developers, individuals take it upon themselves to temper how they develop games, taking the
liberties lessen blood in fight scenes and other small measures they can impose. Abad admits there are also no code of ethics for game developers, or a creed which will guide or bind the industry to advocate child protection, it will be solely up to clients or the company which employs them.

“However, responsibility for child protection is shared, it does not only depend on game developers, parents play a larger role for this, as well as the community, when parents substitute gaming for parenting, thus starts our problem.” Abad along with a majority of game developers, do not believe in censorship, as there will always be bad
applications and even with published child-safe games, there will be slip ups which will endanger children ‘This is a
reflection of our times, the games which kids and adults play have changed, the lines have blurred.”

Parents taking control

Meloy and a group of parents have banded together in December of 2023 to form “Club Quokka Gaming,” a children’s video game club in the Philippines which aims to digital safety for children. “We have become a community of parents trying to provide a safe gaming environment for our kids. (however) we do not want to ban them from games entirely because there are just so many opportunities for positive experiences and learnings from
playing games with the correct group of people and community.”

Meloy relayed, the idea was formed when her niece started to get bullied in school in 2022 and she found out that she had no one to play with in the Roblox application. “I asked 15 friends who had kids who play the same application to join a group chat to help our kids play safe,” Meloy said. The group chat allowed kids to interact with other players while under the supervision of their parents and guardians and soon enough the idea of a chat group grew into what Club Quokka Gaming is today.

The informal club aims to inform and update what kids are up to and is a venue for information dissemination for
parents about the game’s kids engage in. Meloy said “These are a group of parents and guardians taking control of the media they consume, we want parents to become aware of the games, applications and possible danger signs, this has become my advocacy.” The newly formed online parenting group shares strategies on how to monitor children online using scheduling techniques or weekend only playtime or ban their children from certain games, once it is analyzed by the group.

Club Quokka Gaming, Meloy says, aims to make other parents aware of the dangers of leaving a child alone with a
device and hopefully, become active guardians against the dangers of online gaming.

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