The children are our tomorrow. True story or empty slogan? We must start showing an interest in protecting children and young people as they access information in cyberspace. It is important to both foster the interest of the youth in the online world and also highlight the dangers in this dynamic environment.
Africa cannot afford to be digitally excluded. Indeed the continent must use ICTs to drive change and accelerate development. But we must also recognize that there are threats associated with our growing dependence on technology. Only fools will ignore the risks. Information security is not an option. Online safety is a necessity for anyone who wants to make sense and benefit from the information and knowledge based society.
In particular we must ask: do children have the online protection they deserve? Is enough being done to shield children from the menace of online attackers? The reality will startle you. Annually in the month of May, Nigeria and other African nations join other nations of the world to mark Children’s Day. Several years ago UNICEF’s theme was: “Expose violence and sexual exploitation of children: uphold the rights of the child.” We must in particular online dangers faced by children are a source of concern.
We all need information, direction and guidance in this high value and yet high risk area of life. What is the truth about the threats and the protection of children in cyberspace? Students, parents, teachers, educators and other stakeholders need to get involved.
Why is there a need for the protection of children and young people online? The African Children Cyber Safety Initiative was created at the Protecting Children and Young People Online forum organized by the African Information Security Association in 2009. The initiative is focused on answering these questions. We need to develop our e-skills in order to contribute and benefit from the knowledge and technology driven environment. What must you look out for during your online experience for reward and contribution?
The impact and dangers of online risks therefore need to be examined, especially as they affect children and the youth. The truth is shocking. In view of the fact that children need special care and attention we need to dispel ignorance.
Continuing to play dumb is suicidal. You can’t control what you don’t understand. Knowledge is critical.
In addition to education what must we do to improve online security for children? The children are the future, so what are the choices? What must me do. That is the mission of the African Children Cyber Safety Initiative (ACCSI).