The Ministry of Interior’s Department of Information Technology (IT) has offered advice parents or guardians about how they can reduce their children’s screen time, in order to avoid risks to their health and prevent them from becoming the victims of cybercrimes.

The IT department noted that the use of technology grew exponentially during the Covid-19 pandemic and now plays a major role in many people’s daily business, communication, entertainment and livelihoods.

At the same time, it expressed concerns about internet security, warning that children often did not understand the risks associated with being online.

“These risks include the damage to young eyes that hours of screen time could do, breaches of a family’s privacy, or a general lack of communication between parents and children that could stem from the overuse of games,” it said.

To avoid these issues, the department recommended the use of programs that limit the use of children’s internet devices, such as Google Family Link, social media activity tracker Qustodio, Apple Screen Time and Microsoft Family Safety.

“Google Family Link is a free app that allows parents or guardians to download from the Play Store and App Store. It can limit the duration of use, allow parents to understand how their children spend time on their device, and share locations and privacy settings,” said the IT department.

Qustodio is a free app with multi-functions in security and tracking, including the monitoring of social media use and messages.

Apple Screen Time is a built-in feature on Apple devices that can be used to help people manage their children’s time on digital devices more effectively.

The IT department also described Microsoft Family Safety, which runs on Microsoft Windows. It also has similar function to the above program, but this program is available only for Windows OS, which runs on Microsoft products.

Apart from those programmes, blocking websites on internet distribution devices (routers) is an effective way to restrict access to certain websites or types of websites for all devices connected to the network, such as computers, smart-phones and tablets. It can be especially useful in families with children or in business settings where access to certain websites may be restricted for security or productivity reasons.

“We advise all parents and guardians to pay attention to their children’s internet use. Allowing them to use the internet correctly will allow them to get the most benefits from it,” said the department.

Nget Moses, an independent consultant on technology security, previously told The Post that people should be educated about using and accessing information on social media, while users themselves should learn more about how to use it safely.

“In fact, social media is a double edged sword. It can be dangerous, but it can also allow people to engage with their interests and learn new things,” he said.

This year, the IT department estimated that there are 10.95 million social media accounts registered in Cambodia.