Who were the First Filipino kids in the internet? My daughter dubbed these kids as the Generation Next, Generation Net in 1998:

A decade ago, the world was totally different. Nail polish were red or pink, those little peace signs were everywhere, everyone were wearing flowers all over their clothes and the Beatles rocked the house. Now, nail polish are in practically any colour, smileys are everywhere and Boyzone rules. Now the people from the last decade says we’re the generation next. Is it true? It sure is. And we’re not just the generation next but the generation net.

Today, these generation net kids are in their early twenties.

I browsed around to locate the whereabouts of these kids.

Let’s see. My first encounter with Filipino kids in the internet was through the club members of Keypals Club that Lauren started in April 1996 and my involvement as Internet safety Head of World Kids Network. Some of these kids were also members of another kids club, GIRL. In January 1997, the mother of Alexandra Rodriguez initiated a meeting for her daughter. Alex lived in Malaysia but her mom planned a vacation / business trip in the Philippines. The kids beamed with excitement for their first “real-life” meeting. Of course, the mommies needed to tag along.

At the Shangrila Makati, the kids present were Alex , Mela Sogono, Quel Valencia , and Lauren and M, my two daughters. It was fun sharing online experiences with the moms of Alex and Racquel . Internet was such a novelty so we yakked about HTML and online shopping with Amazon. It never dawned on me that one could shop online.

The next meeting was in the same year during Lauren’s 11th birthday party in an internet cafe . Lauren, Quel, Arianne Reyes and Denise Sese came to the party. They “chatted” with their online friends from different parts of the world. I know Lauren also met up with Stephanie Co on the latter’s birthday.

I lost touch with the moms after the meeting but the kids still bump into each other’s blog these days. Alex is a model and studies in the UK. Mela is a scholar in La Salle (not sure if she graduated already) while M, Racquel, Denise and Arianne are currently enrolled in UP Diliman. Other kids I remember during those days were Jill Genio, Peter Martin Gomez, Cecile Dominquez who all belonged to the World Kids Network. Jill and Martin studied in Ateneo while Cecile chose to study in a US college. There were other kids who were online in 1995 but some names slip my mind now. Maybe they can refresh my memory.

The researcher in me seeks to investigate how the internet has contributed to our kid’s intellectual growth and social interaction skills the past 12 years. Nagging fears on the ill effects of the internet was a big issue during those early days. “Is the Internet Affecting the Social Skills of Our Children?” written in 1999 are primarily US-based studies. There were suggestions that Internet use has a negative influence on individuals and their social skills. I believe that Filipino parents are very hands-on. They set time limits and create a balance of healthy activities for their children.

The conclusion of the study says:

Despite the alarm, research indicates most children are doing fine. Computers are certainly intriguing and captivating, and the Internet is most assuredly alluring with its research and communicative capacities. But overall, technology can be considered a positive enhancement to growth. This feature is eloquently affirmed by author Don Tapscott (1999):

“… when kids are online, they’re reading, thinking, analyzing, criticizing and authenticating – composing their thoughts. Kids use computers for activities that go hand-in-hand with our understanding of what constitutes a traditional childhood. They use the technology to play, learn, communicate and form relationships as children always have. Development is enhanced in an interactive world.”

I believe these kids have the advantage of being exposed to global thinking , varied ethnicities , cultures and religion which they might not have learned in the classroom. At the same time that these kids must think locally, in terms of what is dear and close to us, they will also act in ways that have a global impact. Our kids are doing fine. They are the future citizens of our country.

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