Recently, the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) in collaboration with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) held a workshop to create a forum on the development of national strategies for the child online protection initiative. The first phase of this initiative was rolled out in 2015 with the implementation of the second phase starting in February 2018.
The internet is one of the most powerful communication and education tools ever invented and many people around the world are getting access to it. It has allowed people to communicate on a global scale while opening numerous activities to many people at once. However, just like anything that powerful, there are some negative effects. As adults, it is easier to navigate and know how to protect ourselves online. However, our children may be a little more vulnerable. They may be open to issues such as cyberbullying, child pornography, identity theft, and solicitation of a minor. A few tips were shared by The Communications Authority of Kenya on how you can protect your child while he/she is online
Safety and security of the personal computer
First thing would be to put the computer in a common area thus when your children are using the computer or laptop, you are able to monitor what they are doing. Children are also less likely to visit sites such as pornographic sites in a common area. Another thing would be to install firewall and antivirus software to protect them from individuals who may be interested in identity theft. Methods of identity theft are continuously evolving and parents need to be vigilant at all times.
Parents, Guardians and Teacher education
To be able to sufficiently protect our kids from negative influences of the internet, we need to educate ourselves on how we can do it. Be on the look-out for new ways to improve their online protection. You should be familiar with the internet sites used by your children. Understanding how often your child spends on the internet allows you to note any sudden changes. Take your time to also figure out how your children use their personal devices such as mobile phones and games consoles. One can access various software and applications which monitor your child’s online activities.
Just like everything else with children, there need to be guidelines so they know when they are doing the wrong thing. Agree with your children on the access of sites and time they are allowed to spend on the internet. As you set these rules, pay attention to issues of privacy, age-inappropriate places, bullying and stranger association. These rules should extend to the use of mobile phones or tablets.
Educating your children
All of these steps may be fruitless if you do not educate your child on internet use and danger. You cannot always monitor what your child is doing 24/7, so teaching them the importance of paying attention to how they use the internet is important. Tell them the risks involved in sharing personal information over the internet. You could introduce them to use these SMART rules suggested by the Communications Authority of Kenya.
S- Set your limits. Ensure that you do not share too much personal information online. Think twice before publishing or sharing anything online.
M- Meeting Online/Offline. Think twice before meeting up with a stranger you have met online. If you still need to meet up with a friend, bring along a parent or guardian for your own protection
A- Accepting Invitations/friendships. If you are not sure about the requests from strangers, it is okay not to accept them.
R- React. Protect yourself from inappropriate content and ignore bad behaviour and leave unpleasant communication. Block anyone approaching you in a rude or threatening manner.
T- Tell Someone. If you have any concerns or problems online you need to tell a parent, guardian or teacher. You can also report content you do not want to see.
Ensure that you have an open relationship with your child. These way your child feels safe and can tell you if they are having issues. Let them be comfortable sharing their online experiences with you. This way you can advise them on what to do.
Child Online Protection is a global problem that requires concerned parents, guardians, government, organizations, and teachers. There have been documented cases of children unknowingly getting into dangerous situations that have detrimental effects on them.