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Keeping our children safe online during the COVID-19 crisis



As the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to keep families at home, parents and children get to spend more time with each other. This creates both challenges and opportunities and many have to do with how to manage children’s screen time.

TV host and author Daphne Oseña-Paez has been more hands-on with her three daughters since the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was implemented. Her children were busy with their studies online until summer break began. Now, they stay productive by working on creative projects, doing household chores, keeping in touch with friends through video chats, and even exercising together as a family.

But as the lockdown lengthened, Oseña-Paez has observed that these times can be trying for children as well. Her daughters, who are 10, 13 and 17 years old, miss being with their friends and worry about their youth passing them by.

“While the gravity of the global pandemic is scary, I try to reassure them that there are still a lot of things to look forward to while the world is in transition,” says Oseña-Paez who is an ambassador of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Aside from making sure her daughters stay productive, Oseña-Paez also guides her children in terms of their screen time and digital habits. “I don’t let them out alone in the streets of the city, so they can’t be alone online too,” she points out.

Oseña-Paez is torn between two tendencies. Screen time has always been limited for her kids, but during the ECQ, she has grown more lenient with it. But she also wants to keep monitor closely their online time.

“It is a slippery slope that, if not managed by parents early on, will make it harder for them to put limits later. It is tempting to just let them stay glued on screen all day just so we can have peace and quiet, but that can lead to so much danger and it isn’t exactly healthy. I can only practice what I preach, so I limit my own screen time too,” she explains.

Understanding Internet risks

It turns out that Oseña-Paez’s caution about screen time is well founded, according to UNICEF. The UN agency warns that during this pandemic, children are at an increased risk of online violence, such as maltreatment, gender-based violence, and sexual exploitation.

“While online communities have become central to maintain many children’s learning, support and play, it is also increasing their exposure to cyberbullying, risky online behavior and sexual exploitation,” UNICEF says in a statement.

This risk is likely to stay  even after COVID-19, as social distancing will continue to part of the ‘new normal’, forcing both children and adults to spend more time on the internet to connect, engage, work, play, study, and be entertained.

More screen time  boosts the risks for children of exposure  to inappropriate or harmful online content from pornography, violence, and cyberbullying as well as online offenders.

Increased online interaction with peers, likewise, can drive teens  into romantic relationships that open them to the risk of exploitation. Since the present situation pushes peers to interact online, there is a heightened risk of exchanging intimate and non-consensual images, which can lead to scandals.

In addition, children and young people lack access to people who can help them like teachers and school guidance counselors. This underscores the need for children to be better protected against offenders, abusers, and exploiters – something that every parent, and guardian should initiate while at home during this crisis.

To help address all these, UNICEF is pushing its SaferKidsPH programme which seeks a multi-sectoral approach in raising public awareness on online child safety and reducing online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC).

Fostering age-appropriate guidance on digital habits 

Ysrael C. Diloy, senior training advocacy officer of child care organization Stairway Foundation, shares guidelines for keeping children of various ages safe in their online interactions.

While parents and guardians are often tempted to keep toddlers (1-2 years old) and preschoolers (3-5 years old) preoccupied with devices during the community quarantine, these kids should not have more than an hour of daily screen time.

The applications and content for these age groups must be appropriate, such as those which encourage reading, storytelling, or body movements. Parents should also still accompany them when using phones, tablets, or computers, considering that age-inappropriate content might still exist in such platforms.

While children develop more technology-based skills as they grow older, they should not neglect other development domains. Adults are advised to consistently place screen time limits. It is also recommended to discuss with them what age-appropriate apps they may install in the devices they use.

For early school children ages 6-10 years old, parents and guardians can introduce basic cyber safety concepts regarding safe or unsafe online experiences, such as in viewing videos or having in-game conversations. Middle school children 11-12 years old can be taught more complex concepts related to unsafe online interactions, content, and behaviors – from protecting personal information, recognizing bullying, and violent or sexual interactions.

While some parents commonly open social media accounts for their kids, these platforms are not designed for children under 13 years old. Those who are introduced to instant messaging (IM) apps should also not have their own accounts yet, but should instead use that of their parents or guardians, while still being monitored as they chat.

Guiding teenagers

Teens usually encounter more challenging situations as their brains are hardwired for exploration and risk-taking behavior, the guidelines stressed. They also begin to have more online autonomy during this period, and their online and offline lives are more likely merged into one.

Therefore, parents and guardians need to advise their teenage children to practice moderation in device usage. Setting mutual agreements on acceptable daily screen time is a good way of doing this. Presenting them with real-life hobbies that they can get into – from arts, to sports, to homemaking – can also help.

It is important for teens to be guided when they make their social media account for the first time. They must be oriented on privacy features and reporting functions of the platform, which should be reviewed on a regular basis. Adults should also consistently reinforce the concept of recognizing unsafe online content, online interactions, and online behaviors, reminding their teenage children to report these things to the social media platform.

As the teen dating scene has drastically changed throughout the years, teenagers are likely to communicate with their partners through online chats. Therefore, parents and guardians should reiterate to their teens the importance of body integrity, the consequences of sharing images of their private body parts to their partners, and the concept of permanence in an online setting.

Aside from constantly providing safety reminders, it is critical for parents or guardians to be unconditionally available – to make teenagers feel that they have someone to turn to in case they need advice or encounter any problems online.

Advocating safe online spaces for children of all ages

As it steps up its efforts to protect children, particularly during this time of COVID-19, digital services provider PLDT, Inc. (PLDT) and its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) encourage parents to keep online activities safe for their children.

“As parents, we must realize that this pandemic will be a significant and life-changing experience that our children will bring with them as they grow up. We must use this time with them at home, to be more attentive to their needs as they adjust to the new normal and develop more digital habits, especially in terms of learning, gaming, and connecting with peers through technology,” says Chaye Cabal-Revilla, PLDT Senior Vice President & Group Controller and Smart Chief Financial Officer.

As the concurrent Chief Sustainability Officer for PLDT Group, Cabal-Revilla adds, “We are committed to promoting awareness and accountability in upholding children’s rights in terms of their growth and development, to help safeguard them from harmful influences and abuse.”

With children as part of the company’s stakeholder management plan in its latest Sustainability Report, PLDT has sought guidance from UNICEF in crafting child-safeguarding policies that cover various processes and programs for the workplace, marketing activities, product and service offerings, and trade community engagements. “We have begun implementing these policies to ensure that we remain a child-friendly organization.” Cabal-Revilla says.

Donations coursed through UNICEF will help send timely aid amid the global COVID-19 pandemic and ensure the safety of more children around the world – both in real life and online. For more information, visit and  




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How a hair-care company went from salon supplier to sanitizer powerhouse



When AG Hair moved into its new, 70,000-sq.-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Coquitlam, B.C., two years ago, it was part of a plan to supercharge expansion of its hair care product line to salons in international markets. Europe was next on its list. Then COVID-19 hit.

Not only was the European expansion put on hold, but salons in major markets across Canada and the United States were temporarily closed. Very few were purchasing hair products, so manufacturing was halted in mid-March, leaving most of the company’s 82 employees out of work.

AG Hair could have waited out the pandemic but instead decided to lean into its entrepreneurial culture and make a sharp pivot. It began providing hand-sanitizing products for front-line health-care workers, addressing a global shortage.

“We realized there was this massive need for health-care professionals, and we wanted to make a difference and be able to provide them with the products they needed,” says AG Hair CEO Graham Fraser.

AG Hair received Canadian and U.S. approvals a week after applying for the licences needed to make sanitizer, and produced samples to show local authorities within 48 hours.

AG Hair’s Coquitlam facility has pivoted to making hand sanitizer (Photograph by Alana Paterson)

“That rapid response time, and the fact that we had gone through all of the Health Canada regulatory hurdles, showed [the local health authorities] that we were a partner they could trust and someone they could look to, to deliver the products they needed,” Fraser says.

Within a month, the company started pumping out the products, first for the health-care industry, then for consumers on its own website and on Amazon. About 10 per cent of AG Hair’s hand-sanitizer production also went to people in need, as identified by organizations such as United Way.

Parallel 49 Brewing Company is also using AG Hair’s Coquitlam manufacturing facility to produce its own blend of liquid hand sanitizer for front-line health and emergency workers, in partnership with the B.C. government.

Fraser credits his team for its energy and creativity in making the hand-sanitizer production happen, and helping put AG Hair staff back to work.

“We realized we had an opportunity . . . and then it became this incredible, almost war-room mentality and collaboration with our owners, our executive team and our people to say, ‘How are we going to get through this?’ ” Fraser recalls. “I think our success speaks to the type of people we have and the entrepreneurial spirit of pursuing every avenue we have, understanding how we can produce the products and making it happen.”

AG Hair’s commitment to investing in future growth is a big part of what makes it a Best Managed company, says Nicole Coleman, a partner at Deloitte and co-lead of its Best Managed Program in B.C.

“Capability and innovation come through quite strongly with this company,” says Coleman, who is also AG Hair’s coach at Deloitte. “I don’t think they would be able to pivot as quickly if they weren’t so strategic and had the internal capabilities to do it.”

The manufacturing facility was a big investment, but one Coleman says has already paid dividends.

“They were looking forward with a strategic plan in mind about future growth and how they could expand, rather than just focusing on the day to day,” she says. “Best Managed companies are always pushing the envelope and are conscious about planning for the future.”

AG Hair was founded in Vancouver in 1989 by hairstylist John Davis and graphic artist Lotte Davis. The husband-and-wife team began bottling hair products in their basement and selling them direct to salons from the back of a station wagon.

The company eventually moved its manufacturing off-site, to a third party. One day, John went to watch the operations and was surprised to see salt being poured into the mixture. Although he was told salt is commonly used as a thickener, he didn’t like the potential side effects of dry hair and skin.

It was at that moment John decided the company would oversee its own manufacturing. “Through that experience, John also became an expert in product development,” says Fraser, who came to the company in 2000 as director of sales.

After having worked for more than two decades at PepsiCo and Kraft Foods, Fraser was eager to work at a smaller, more agile company where he felt he could help make a difference.

“It was perfect because I got to bring a lot of structure and process that I learned in those organizations, but I also learned an awful lot about being an entrepreneur from John and Lotte: that sense of urgency, the decision-making process, the need to get things done and drive things forward and pursue opportunities,” he says.

Fraser has helped drive AG Hair’s expansion into the U.S. and internationally, including Australia, Taiwan, and Central and South America. A portion of its sales go to One Girl Can, a charity founded by Lotte that provides schooling, education and mentoring for girls in sub-Saharan Africa.

Fraser also oversees the development of new, trending products, including a new deep-conditioning hair mask made with 98 per cent plant-based and natural ingredients. Hand-sanitizing spray and gel will be the latest addition to the company’s product lineup.

“We don’t see the demand [for hand-sanitizing products] going away,” he says. “As the isolation policies start to get lifted, people are going to need forms of security and protocols as they get back into regular life and work. We see there’s going to be a need for these types of products long-term.”

This article appears in print in the June 2020 issue of Maclean’s magazine with the headline, “Working out the kinks.” Subscribe to the monthly print magazine here.

The post How a hair-care company went from salon supplier to sanitizer powerhouse appeared first on Canadian Business – Your Source For Business News.

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Buy Into the Shopify Story for the Long-Term, Says 5-Star Analyst



E-commerce platform Shopify (SHOP) joined the $1,000 per share club last week, symbolically reaching the landmark on Canada Day. The Ottawa-based company has delivered a strong performance in 2020, with shares up by a remarkable 159% year-to-date. Given this impressive rally, should investors reduce exposure to the e-commerce highflyer?No, is the succinct answer from Baird analyst Colin Sebastian.While the lofty valuation is “still the biggest investor pushback,” the 5-star analyst believes there still remains a large untapped TAM (total addressable market) that Shopify has yet to penetrate.Sebastian said, “Shopify has made our list of favorite stocks each year since initiating coverage in early 2016. In our view, there are scarce few (if any) public software companies as closely tied to the enormous e-commerce share shift, with an established leadership position, and world-class product and engineering. Moreover, we see multiple incremental revenue drivers ahead from new paid services, new partnerships (e.g., WMT) and consumer facing technology (Shop app).”It’s no secret that as the coronavirus raged across the globe, the e-commerce sector benefitted.COVID-19 has sped up what was already an underlying shopping trend – the move to online. Sebastian estimates this will result in an “incremental shift of roughly $200 billion in annual retail spend in the U.S. from offline to online channels.”Shopify, PayPal and Amazon make up roughly 80% of e-commerce volume in the U.S. This means that Shopify stands to “capture a significant amount of that incremental spend.”Despite the massive gains in 2020, Shopify is still valued lower than both, implying it has more room to grow.And it is growing, still. Recent checks made by the investment firm indicate that merchant growth on Shopify is increasing. Shopify now has 1.3 million merchants and brands using its service, which is 200,000 more than when last surveyed in late January.Additionally, the company's “variable revenue base” should further expand due to the rising adoption of Shopify Payments.Accordingly, Sebastian keeps an Outperform rating on SHOP shares, while bumping up the price target from $820 to $1,100. Should the figure be met over the next 12 months, there’s upside of 7% in store. (To watch Sebastian’s track record, click here)Looking at the consensus breakdown, 8 Buys, 12 Holds and 1 Sell were assigned in the last three months. As a result, SHOP has a Moderate Buy consensus rating. However, the $824.94 average price target implies shares could drop by nearly 16% in the year ahead. (See Shopify stock-price forecast on TipRanks)To find good ideas for stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights. More recent articles from Smarter Analyst: * Ad Spend Ban Could Damage Facebook’s Brand, Says 5-Star Analyst * MEI Pharma (MEIP) Stock Takes a Hit but This Analyst Keeps the Faith * 3 Coronavirus Penny Stocks With Triple-Digit Upside Potential * The Rise of E-Commerce and Cloud Services Positions Amazon (AMZN) for the Win

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These congressional districts saw the highest number of PPP loans over $150,000



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Where did the money land?

After a long wait and plenty of hounding from Congress, oversight agencies, and outside groups, a deluge of Paycheck Protection Program loan data was released Monday.

Though there are may ways to slice the data, one interesting window is to look at the number of loans by congressional district. As Fortune‘s analysis shows, the districts that saw the most loans tended to be in the wealthiest enclaves in California, New York and Texas. The 10 districts receiving the most PPP loans over $150,000 are represented in the chart below.

The highest number of loans were awarded in Jerry Nadler’s New York 10th congressional district (6,976). The 10th district includes parts of upper and lower Manhattan (including the Financial District) and Brooklyn. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s district, the 14th district of New York, meanwhile, received a much smaller pool of 728 forgivable loans.

Others in the top 10 districts to get the taxpayer loans include Republican Dan Crenshaw, whose district, the 2nd of Texas, came in No. 2 with 5,247 loans over $150,000. Democrat Diana DeGette’s 1st district of Colorado rounded out the top three, with 4,805 loans for her district based in Denver.

Some of the congressional districts, in places like New York City, that took home the most PPP loans were also among the hardest hit by initial shutdowns.

One interesting note: Georgia’s 6th Congressional District is currently represented by Democrat Lucy McBath, which came in at No. 9. That district’s move from a Republican stronghold, which was once represented by Newt Gingrich, to Democratic district is symbolic of the country’s wealthiest enclaves drifting away from the Republican party to the Democratic party. In 2012, Mitt Romney won 54% of the voters with incomes over $200,000 household incomes, that number fell to 48% for Donald Trump, according to New York Times exit poll data.

Meanwhile, chairwoman of the House’s Committee on Small Business Nydia Velázquez’s district secured 4,799 loans for New York’s 7th district—which includes parts of Queens, Brooklyn, and lower Manhattan. Rep. Velázquez has been a key figure in the small business emergency aid program, and has expressed frustration with the administration’s approach to transparency: She wrote in a joint statement with Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) on June 22 that, “only sharing data on disbursements above [$150,000] is utterly inadequate.”

Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s 12th district in New York received 4,441 loans, encompassing areas in Midtown and the Upper East Side, while California’s 33rd district, represented by Ted Lieu, came in at No. 6 with 4,346 forgivable loans.

Among the three California districts to receive the most loans is Katie Porter’s 45th district—securing 4,124 PPP loans for her Orange County, California district. Porter has echoed Velázquez’ concerns about a lack of transparency for the Small Business Administration’s program, and declared on MSNBC on July 1 that, “Even if [Treasury Secretary Steve] Mnuchin gives us some of these data, we need to be acting legislatively to ensure we’re going to have the information throughout the program,” as the program still has over $130 billion of unused funds as of June 30.

Texas representative Kenny Marchant’s 24th district (one of the two Republicans whose districts hit the top 10) secured 3,959 PPP loans.

The 28th district of California, which includes Pasadena and Hollywood, came in at No. 10, with 3,663 PPP loans over $150,000. The district is represented by Democrat Adam Schiff, who also chairs the House Select Committee on Intelligence.

Although the public got its first look at exactly who got loans, the disclosures on Monday only covered about 14% of the total number of PPP borrowers, as the majority of loans fell under the $150,000 threshold. Now, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis is “working to ensure more oversight and more transparency for this critical program,” Rep. James Clyburn, the subcommittee’s chairman, said in a statement Monday.

More must-read finance coverage from Fortune:

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