A recent online experiment done by the Koror State Digital Citizenship Initiative Summer Youth Program has brought to light the presence of online predators targeting under aged kids in Palau.
Prior to this experiment, the 19 youth mentored by Joleen Ngoriakl, Arvan Subris, and Tobe Techur, went through series of trainings for 3 weeks under the certification program for online safety.
Tasks included doing online assignments, meetings every Friday, and watching videos with discussions afterwards.
The Digital Citizenship Summer Youth staff were inspired to do this experiment after watching videos of online predators that were present in Roblox and TikTok.
They were curious to know if Palauan kids could be vulnerable to online predators. The 19 youth staff were then split into two groups where one will be online using a fake profile while the other group was tasked to research any law in Palau that protects children from online predators.
A 20-year-old female in the group volunteered to change the information on her Instagram, made her profile public, and to pose as a 12-year-old girl.
Within an hour, someone residing in Palau started to message perverted things to the fake profile. It made the 20-year-old in the group very uncomfortable and because of that, the project was cut short.
After getting into contact with several offices in Palau such as the Olbiil Era Kelulau and Office of the President, the research group did not find any laws that protect children from online predators.
“Do not take the privilege of internet away because they will go somewhere and go online. It’s better for a parent to learn how to navigate and talk to your children about the dangers of internet” said Joleen Ngoriakl.
With nearly every school age child in Palau connected to the internet on daily basis for school or daily entertainment, parents need to be more aware of the dangers posed in this new environment.
Ngoriakl said that parents should make themselves more aware through research or to reach at her office for further guidance on the issue.