Child Online Safety Campaign in Nigeria
Children are now referred to as digital natives.If given the opportunity,they will be keen on staying on the internet regularly.The internet comes with a lot of risk and children aren’t left out. OLAMIDE THOMPSON ODENEYE is one of the convener for child online safety.We had an interview with her and here is what she has to say.
Who is Olamide Thompson Odeneye?
Olamide Thompson-Odeneye, is a multi-skilled sales expert with over 14-year experience in the Information Technology (IT) and Cybersecurity Industry. I have a diploma in computer science, a B.Sc in Statistics and a PGD in Management.Also, Olamide has various certifications from various Original Equipment Manufacturers and was the pioneer Vice Chairman of the Lagos Branch of Cyber Security Experts Association of Nigeria.
She later went on to become the first female chairperson of the same branch. I am also a member of the Experts Group (under the Senate committee on ICT and Cybercrime), She Secures and Women in Cyber Security.
She works with Zenith Technology Limited as a product manager and is currently the convener of Child Online Safety NG. A group of Professionals, Educators and concerned parents who have volunteered to push cybersecurity awareness to children and to equip children/teachers/parents with the skills they need to remain safe online.
How did you find yourself into the cybersecurity field?
I started out in the information and communication technology field earlier in my career and slowly we began to see a shift in the industry towards cybersecurity and that’s how we slowly emerged in this field. The greatest thing about excelling in this field is a passion to learn, unlearn and relearn. We are consistently learning and adapting to new technologies as we go along.
Now, let’s talk about Child online safety Nigeria, a campaign you are championing, what inspired you?
We discovered there was a gap and no one was discussing the possible dangers online or how the children can remain secure while on the Internet. We joined up the Kenya Cybersecurity and forensics association to push their Child online Risk Awareness (CORA) campaign in Nigeria. It is interesting to note that the same campaign was also adopted in Gambia and Rwanda. There a few other countries looking to adopt this same campaign and hopefully it will become a campaign run across Africa.
Children are learning to navigate their world, they are enthusiastic and may not understand the consequences of their actions online.They also lack the ability to discern when they may be at risk and can easily be trusting.
How has the campaign been?
The campaign has been very interesting and an eye opener. We realise that there really is a lot of work to be done. We started in September 2018 and we have had the opportunity to visit a few schools to talk to the students, attend parent forums and generally any other event that affords us such an opportunity.
We were lucky to also be listed as Stop Think Connect partners last year and got the opportunity to speak on Child Online Safety at the US Consulate Lagos Cybersecurity Awareness programme in October 2018. We are also very grateful to my friends at International Center for Leadership and Development for the collaborative efforts we have both had in reaching out to children during NCSAM 2018.
Also, we were also lucky to have had the opportunity to discuss internet safety with Children who were invited to the “catch them young” session at the just concluded CYSEC conference in Abuja which took place in October.
2019 will be our kick off year as we are currently solidifying relationships with similar groups who work with children so we can have a better outreach. We started the year with the official launch of the CORA campaign in Lagos at The American Corner of The Ovie Brume Foundation where we had over 100 students from various schools in Lagos in attendance. Our speakers included are Olayemi Fanimo( Director of Studies at OREN SCHOOLS), Yaniv Ovitz the CTO of CyberSOc Africa, Adedoyin Adedeji the COO of International Center for Leadership Development Nigeria and Oreoluwa Lesi the Founder and Executive Director( Women’s Technology Empowerment Center W.TEC and a representative of ESET Nigeria. The Executive Director of the Foundation Mrs Adeola Awogbemi was our chief host.
We are also studying the success of CORA campaigns that ran in the other African countries with a view to implementing some of those ideas here in Nigeria. We plan to have at least 4 meet-ups this year in addition to our in school programmes. We are planning a follow-up to the children’s awareness programme tagged Meet the Parents because we also realise the need for parents to be aware of these risks and how they can help ensure their children stay safe online. After all Cyber safety starts at home.
Will you say you are getting the needed encouragement for this campaign?
Encouragement comes in different forms and yes to an extent I can say yes. This comes from the feedback you get from the children and the interaction from the parents after the awareness.
We know we have a long way to go but surely we will get there. A big Thank you to all those who have supported us in every area and are passionate about us reaching out to more children. We will keep engaging the relevant stakeholders on our quest to ensure all Nigerian children and their parents understand what it means to be safe online.
Would you say children are interested in cybersecurity?
Children are very interested in cybersecurity, they are digital citizens and so interested in many aspects of cybersecurity. It is also very important for us to quickly spark more interest now as there is a need for cyber security experts in the world right now.
What are your thoughts about the risk children may encounter online?
Risks to children online include Identity theft, online grooming, cyber-bullying, graphic content, pornographic material, privacy issues ,scams, cyber predators, accidentally downloading malware.
Do you think children should not be given access to the internet due to its risk?
I totally disagree with that. There is so much to learn and gain from positive internet usage. As Adults, our job is share, talk, put measures in place to ensure that the children see the best and not the worst online because every child deserves to be able to navigate the world from the tips of their fingers.
With the increase in Online risks, would you say there should be an age restriction by parents in the use of the internet?
It’s really not about the age restrictions, it is about equipping them with the right set of skills to ensure that anytime (or anywhere) they go online, they can be guided. Education and awareness are our strongest tools yet. It is not a onetime thing, it must be consistent and continued. What applies to a 3 year old may not apply to a 16 year old. Safety training varies according to the age group being addressed. Getting the foundation right, allows us to build easily. As parents we must also be aware of measures that can be put in place (such as filters) to ensure our children are protected from inappropriate content.
What advice do you have for parents to ensure the safety of their children online?
Don’t block: avoiding technology is not a practical solution. Help children filter information and navigate fact from fiction
Collaborate: Take an interest in your child’s digital interests and favourite apps or sites. Consider co-viewing or co-creating atimes.
Communicate: Work with your child to navigate digital dilemmas. Encourage open communication. Learn to become a trusted adult
Learn: Update yourself. Explore reliable resources for parents so you can educate yourself.
Never Forget, You are in charge. Set boundaries and consider filtering software. You are the role model.
Finally, what are your future plans for this campaign?
We still have so much work to do and so much ground to cover. We will continue to work with various stakeholders to ensure we can reach as many children as we can. We also have plans to take the campaign to all the major cities we have in here in Nigeria.The final goal will be setting up cybersecurity awareness clubs in schools to help ensure that we always have cyber champions on ground to keep the fire going. As a volunteer group we look forward to welcoming new people with a passion for impacting the next generation. Please reach us @safety_ng on twitter or send a mail to [email protected]