By Eugene Wanekeya
Let me start with a question to parents. Are you up to speed with your child’s tech capability? And to the soon-to-be parents, are you equipped with sufficient tech know-how to offer guidance to your kids as they start interacting with modern day tech devices? The survival of the current and future generations of children in Kenya may end up depending on their parents’ ability to help them navigate the ever evolving tech space.
The Communications Authority of Kenya has raised an alarm over the potential dangers children in Kenya are exposed to as a result of their access to the internet. The proliferation of tech gadgets in Kenya such as smart phones, tablets, laptops and other computer devices has resulted in millions of children having unsupervised and unrestricted access to the internet. A significant number of parents and guardians are oblivious of their children’s online activities in spite of the many dangers they are exposed to.
Freedom of information may be a constitutionally protected right for adults and children alike, but it is the obligation of parents and guardians to ensure that anyone under eighteen years who is under their care enjoys this freedom albeit under supervision. According to the Communications Authority of Kenya, protecting children online is a global problem that requires concerted efforts of parents, guardians, government and organisations that are children centric among others. This is because children are a vulnerable group and there have been many cases where they unknowingly get into dangerous situations that sometimes have detrimental effects.
Through a child online protection initiative dubbed ‘Be The Cop’, the Authority in partnership with other stakeholders has engaged in an exercise to empower parents, guardians, teachers and children on safe and responsible internet use. The focus is mainly on tackling cybercrimes such as solicitation of minors, cyberbullying, identity theft and online fraud, and child pornography among others. Some of these incidents are beginning to become prevalent in Kenya however they remain unpublicized because parents of many victims choose to stay quiet in order to preserve the privacy and dignity of their children. Other cases go unreported because children as well as some parents have no idea where to turn to when faced with such problems.
As children continue getting exposed to new technologies, parents and guardians should make a concerted effort to keep up. As a parent you do not need to be completely tech savvy, all you need to do is learn the basics of how these technologies work so that you can be in a better position to offer guidance to your child. The tools you need are at your disposal. For more info on this please visit www.ca.go.ke/childonlineprotection/