August 9, 2020

How can the society keep young adventurers safe in an online world full of risks? We can’t deny the Internet is most often used for entertainment purposes like; email, chatting, online networking, gaming, digital multimedia… Instead of idealistic activities like e-health, e-governance, networking, education, research, humanitarian efforts, and so on.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has unveiled safety measures and guidelines to help parents secure the safety of children

when they are engaged on the internet or are online.

With collaboration from Cece Yara Foundation, the Commission in the documents made available to the media said the advise is coming on the heels of the international edition of Europol COVID-19 Global Online Safety Advice and the ITUs on keeping children safe online during the COVID-19 pandemic for parents and care givers.

Photo Credit; Getty Images

This document, according to NCC serves as a guide that will help Parents and Carers/Guardians during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

NCC, said: “Countries are developing measures to address and provide significant assurance of online safety for children, their families, and society at large.

“Educating young children about cyber safety is complicated, as young children often do not understand the social and technical complexities of the internet.

“This difficulty in understanding arises because the internet is virtual and cannot be experienced firsthand by the sense.

“As computers are usually in a place children perceive as safe, the risks are not readily apparent to them.

“They do not understand that the computer can be networked and connected beyond the safe place to a world that can be both risky and dangerous.

“Young children and most adults, do not realize that materials posted on the internet often times, do not have external controls or standards to subscribe to.”

Photo Credit; Getty Image

WHAT TO DO TO KEEP CHILDREN SAFE ONLINE:

The Commission urged parents and care givers to anticipate risks as anticipation of risks will lead to appropriate control measures being put in place before a child is allowed access to digital devices or the internet. Some of these anticipatory control measures include:

NEED FOR PARENTAL GUIDANCE:
As a parent, stay informed and educated about the use of your devices and the devices your child has access to.

PARENTS MUST STAY AHEAD, INFORMED:
Parents should stay informed on various social network sites and what happens on them. Stay informed and better educated than your children and wards. Make them understand that you know as much or more than they do. Therefore, be their go-to person for information on what to do with the device you eventually give them access to.

WHAT CARE MUST DO:


Care Givers should be trained on how to guide children in online activities: Schools have adopted the use of online platforms for education. Care must be taken to educate the teachers and prepare them for the avalanche of questions from children, on the use of various online applications or whatever information the children encounter online.

TEACHERS AS MAJOR SUPPORT:
The teachers are major support networks and pillars in the life of any child. They are oftentimes as trusted as parents are.

INSTALLATION OF APPS:
Install child appropriate apps/search engines: Before a device is given to a child, age appropriate applications should first be installed on it. This will protect the child from inadvertently stumbling into wrong sites that appear as pop-ups.

INSTALL FIREWALLS:
Firewalls act as content filters. They help make sure non-age appropriate content does not appear on the childs device.

TIMERS BE INSTALLED:
Set timers on all devices used by the child: This helps to create discipline and structure for the child. Ensure clear time boundaries are set.

EMPOWER THE CHILD:
This is one of the most important steps any parent can take. There is a sense of privacy associated with being online. Parents will not always be there when children go online. Adopting a childcentric approach to the use of the internet prepares the child for unforeseen issues and assures the child of the trust and respect of his/her parent.

BASIC RULES:


Teach children basic online safety skills and how to apply them. Pay attention/be observant: As children spend more time online, observe behavioral patterns and changes. Recognize unusual activities, actions and reactions. Where any change is observed, calmly address those changes and allow the child sufficient room to talk without being judgmental. The home is a safety net for children. It is also the best support system that allows an abused child recover from abuse and provides a means for managing post abuse trauma. Children need to know they can go to their parents with whatever concerns they encounter online.

ENGAGE YOUR CHILD:
Ask how your children use the internet. Make them show you some of their favorite sites and discuss with them, make them aware that there are things on the internet which may upset them and that they can always talk to you or any trusted adult. Make sure your child realizes that he or she should never give out personal details, such as name, address, school, and telephone numbers, to online friends they do not know in the real world.

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