While the internet has opened up a world of endless possibilities by revolutionising the way people communicate, learn and live, there are downsides, particularly for children.
Children from low and middle-income countries are less likely to use the internet from home, and are more likely to go online from cyber cafes, where they are at greater risk of encountering inappropriate images and online and offline solicitation, disclosed a recent report by UNICEF’s Innocenti Research Centre (IRC).
In light of this, J Initiative, a youth focused non-governmental organisation in partnership with Tigo Ghana, have sensitised over 1,500 school children in 14 basic schools in the Greater Accra region on the need to stay safe and protected when using the internet. This forms part of several activities lined up for their Child Online Safety and Protection Campaign.
At the climax of the internet safety awareness programme for the 14 schools at Burma Camp Basic and Garrison Schools, resource persons from J Initiative and Facebook UK educated the children on how to detect suspicious persons and activities online, as well as, how to keep their personal information secured.
In her presentation, the Executive Director of J-Initiative, Awo Aidam Amenyah, highlighted some of the dangers the internet could bring when used wrongly.
Touching on the success of the three-week awareness programme, Ms. Amenyah said: “Since we began the awareness programme in basic schools, a lot of parents have reached out to us asking for advice on how best to protect their children. Some even ask for counsellors to help them deal with children who are already engaged in bad internet practices such as explicit media content.”
She also explained that the overwhelming response they have been receiving from teachers and the students is indicative that there are deep-seated issues that need to be addressed through appropriate regulation and legislation.
She was excited some schools had requested for assistance to incorporate internet safety in their ICT curricular.