In the world today the internet is used for many positive activities however there are some severe risks also associated with it such as online predatory, cyber bullying and consequences from revealing and sharing a lot of personal information. Children unfortunately encounter these risks during their day to day online activities like socialising with friends or during their school research.
Children learn through exploration and natural curiosity, and parents, guardians and caretakers should encourage that. However, as children grow up, develop and discover new experiences, extra caution is needed to ensure their safety. Until their understanding and instincts catch up with their curiosity, children need to be protected from inappropriate material and behavior both in the physical and online worlds.
None of us – of whatever age – is immune from encountering problems online. Children are certainly at a vulnerable stage in their lives; naturally more trusting than adults and hopefully having been less exposed to the darker side of the internet. They are also not as well equipped to deal with such issues – or their consequences.
Some of these potential issues are as follows:
- Inappropriate contact: from people who may wish to abuse, exploit or bully them.
- Inappropriate conduct: because of their own and others’ online behavior, such as the personal information they make public, for example on social networking sites. Unfortunately, children can also become cyber bullies, especially when encouraged by others.
- Inappropriate content: being able to access or being sexually explicit, racist, violent, extremist or other harmful material, either through choice or in error.
- Commercialism: being the targets of aggressive advertising and marketing messages.
- Gaining access to your personal information stored on your computer, or mobile device, and passing it on to others.
- Enabling viruses and spyware by careless or misinformed use of their or your computer, smartphone, or tablet.
This Online Safety Education Toolkit by the Internet Society of Uganda (ISOC) Is designed to be useful and convenient for young children and youth in Uganda between ages of 5 – 20 years to prevent online victimization by teaching them how to stay safer online and offline.
The goals of this toolkit are to: educate students on how to recognise online and offline potential internet risks; engage children and the young adults in a two-way conversation about online and offline risks; empower children to help prevent themselves from being exploited online, or to report victimisation to a trusted adult; support and enhance community online safety education efforts.
The following resources are provided by the online safety toolkit to equip you with online safety tips such as;
- Online Safety Resources: - Guides that include full descriptions of online safety resources as well as an overview of the primary online safety risks.
- Online Safety Pledges: Hangouts for nursery, primary and secondary students that outline clear, simple guidelines for safer Internet use.
- Online Safety Rules and Posters: - Single-sided poster which displays the online safety rules for children is designed to meet the following goals.
The National Information Technology Authority – Uganda (NITA-U) under the governance of the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology has taken lead in development of the National Information Security Strategy in Uganda, which aims at addressing security challenges which include child safety online that are envisaged in this era of technological advancement.
NITA-U encourages parents, guardians, relatives, teachers and other adults responsible to children’s safety to participate in the safety of young people online. This can be done easily by sharing this toolkit with children, family, friends and colleagues; simply put with as many people as it is possible in order to empower the children and prevent their exploitation when online.