The Internet and the use of ICT has become an integral part of everyday life. In fact, to deny
children of mobile phones, ipads or their laptops would appear to them as some sort of cruel and unusual punishment!
According to research conducted by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University titled
“Teens and Technology 2013,” 78% of teenagers have a cell phone; 93% of teens have a computer or have access to one at home while about one in four teens (23%) have a tablet computer.
In today’s digital age, children are growing up having access to the internet at an increasingly younger age.
This modern tool has undoubtedly become an important part oftoday’s youth culture, where homework, online gaming, and social networking are among some of the most prevalent activities of young people.
However, along with the convenience, fun and the fascination of cyber space comes potential threats and
dangers – This has been described as the “dark side” of the internet. This is an aspect of the World Wide Web (www) that we must protect children from.
On Tuesday, 11 February 2014, the world marks Safer Internet Day (SID). This year’s theme is, “Let’s create a better internet together.” Over the years, Safer Internet Day has become a landmark event in the online safety calendar to promote safe, responsible use of the internet by children and young people, and to protect
them from illegal and harmful content and conduct online.
The First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Global Child Online Protection Champion, Dame
(Dr) Patience Faka Jonathan,is a passionate advocate of Child online protection. She regards it as a sacred duty to protect children in line with the global UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Child’s
Rights Act of 2003.
In her message to mark Safer Internet Day, (SID) Dame Jonathan called for greater action. She invited
International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Member States and Sector Members tobuild expertise,
develop educational programs and curricula to address a safe and responsible use of the internet.
She also invited them to develop practical tools to help minimize risk to children and put
in place measures that can address online safety.Her message stressed the importance of putting in place
alerting mechanisms to tackle the growing threats to children as they browse the Internet and access information online, while she also called for the balancing of privacy issues and policies related to freedom of speech with the implementation of measures that can address online safety.
The Global Child Online Protection Champion also called for the establishment of policies and effective frameworks, which protect the use of private data and intellectual property, and discourage online criminal activity.
Children are a vulnerable group. If not properly educated, sensitized and monitored, they can easily fall
prey to the dangers of cyber fraudsters and predators. Children must make the best possible use of online technology. They must however, avoid the risk associated with internet use. The First Lady has provided a strong voice and a passionate commitment to child safety in the ever alluring world of cyber space.
A.O.Adesugba sent this article from Abuja