by HARIZAH KAMEL / pic by BERNAMA
MALAYSIA is seeing an upward trend in demand for gadgets and devices, especially mobile devices as more people work and study from home as the country is put in multiple phases of the Movement Control Order (MCO).
The National Tech Association of Malaysia (Pikom) chairman Danny Lee said parents are finding that one or two devices are insufficient for the whole family’s needs.
“Every child needs access to the Internet so they can continue their online classes with their teachers.
“According to some statistics from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, the penetration rate for mobile is more than 130% which is similar to some developed countries.
“This shows that more Malaysians are connected to the Internet,” he said in a webinar organised by Kaspersky titled “Let’s Talk About Keeping Your Kids Safe Online” recently.
He also said statistics for the broadband penetration at home is about 30% which translates to one-third of all homes having access to broadband Internet.
The figure, coupled with the devices, gives an uptick of demand for information and technology (IT) products and services, said Lee.
He said although access to devices and the Internet is increasingly important, its affordability is a challenge for most Malaysians especially if there is only one device in a household being shared among family members.
“This is where we feel that the government and private sector can come in to help alleviate or address some of these issues.
“This includes reducing the tax rate on IT products or removing the sales tax on IT products. Also, when they introduce a scheme, they can introduce it on a limited basis for parents so they can buy devices for their children to access the Internet,” he said.
He commented that the government has provided several incentives that will boost consumption of technology-related devices and products, such as the recent announcement in Budget 2021 where the income tax allowance was increased from RM2,500 to RM3,000.
With children now spending more time online, Early Childhood Care and Education Council president Datuk Dr Chiam Heng Keng said parents should help their children navigate the Internet safely.
“Parents should monitor the programmes and games that their children are watching and playing, and teach them what is appropriate.
“Parents must also teach their children to not talk to strangers or give out personal information on the Internet,” she said.
Meanwhile, Kaspersky GM for South-East Asia Yeo Siang Tiong pointed out that children spending more time online should be a cause of concern as there are many risks that the children are exposed to.
“Before the Covid-19 period, we collected around 350,000 new unique malicious files every day, but during the pandemic, it has skyrocketed to 428,000 daily. Cybercrimes are on the rise,” he said.
Lee said there is no “one size fits all solution” and believes although parents need to introduce technology to their children at an early age, it does not mean that there are no boundaries placed.
“We need to set boundaries and communicate with them on the importance of limiting screen time and transparency of who they are talking to online.
“When they are more matured and can take on more responsibility, then we can give them more leeway,” he added.