The world has gone online. Mobile applications, cloud computing, and children too are fast getting on board. But considering the level of maturity and exposure of the child is enough interest being shown in protecting children and young people as they access information and learn using their tech devices? While we foster their interest in computing and the online world we must also highlight the dangers to children in this dynamic environment.
ICTs provide Africa with a unique leapfrog opportunity. But benefits laced with poison? Every day, through my online activities and experiences, I run into the threats associated with our growing dependence on technology. I have learned with great pain that it is foolish to ignore these ever present dangers. Security, information security, is a necessity, not an option. We don’t have to learn the hard way. Online safety is a necessity for anyone who truly wants to make sense and benefit from the information and knowledge based society.
This discourse hones in on children. Do children have the online protection they deserve? Is enough being done to shield children from the menace of online attackers? The reality should wake you up. How concerned are you about the dangers faced by children as they explore online? Or are you a member of the “they will sort themselves out” fraternity?
You need information, the children need information. You need direction, the children need direction. Being informed and purposeful, makes more sense that just plodding along and accepting whatever comes our way. I have found the ICT sector, community to be extremely high value, transformatory, life and world changing. And that is why I am passionate about using ICT as an instrument of change. I however know it is an area of tremendous and constantly changing risk in our now digitally enabled life.
I am in addition aware that many of us suffer because we shy away from the inconvenient truths and instead focus on consumption, status and the power of gadgets. My question to you is: aren’t you interested in knowing the truth about the threats and the protection of children in cyberspace? You think it doesn’t affect you? I suggest you think again. “The Children are the Future” is not an empty threat! It is not an empty boast. In my opinion, it is a call to action.
In 2009, Jidaw and the African Information Security Association (AISA) organized a forum in to mark the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) which had the theme “Protecting children in cyberspace”. Stakeholders at the forum resolved to create the African Children Cyber Safety Initiative (ACCSI). It’s been several years ago but the questions about protecting children and young people online will not go away.
I ask you: as we all delve deeper and build greater reliance on the knowledge and technology driven environment, what is the impact (good and bad) of the online environment on children? The truth could be shocking. In what ways should we deal with the online risks that affect children and the youth? The threats won’t simply vanish into thin air. Without protection we waste our assets. How valuable are the children? How valuable is the future? What is the quality of our protection? In my experience wallowing in ignorance is dangerous. No matter how intelligent or tech savvy, they are, children need special care and attention. Otherwise we put the future at risk.
What’s your take on improving online security for children – no need or more needs to be done?
Innovation and Development Advisor, ICT at Jidaw
ICT Development Advisory Support and Consulting