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Towards a Safer Internet: Protecting Children Online

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Introduction

The purpose of the Safer Internet Day is to raise awareness about how to use technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively.  Safer Internet Day 2020 is celebrated globally with the theme: Together for a better internet (in terms of accessibility, affordability, availability, quality of services, convergence, value chain and child online protection, policy, privacy and security). It is a call to action for all stakeholders to join together and play their part in creating a better internet for all users especially the children and young people on how to use technology safely, responsibly and positively.

The day offers the opportunity to highlight positive uses of technology and to explore the role we all play in helping to create a better and safer online community. It calls upon young people, parents, teachers, social workers, law enforcement, policymakers, etc. to join together in helping to create a better internet.

From cyberbullying to cyberstalking, cyber smearing, online child pornography, identity theft, digital privacy, social media etiquette, each year Safer Internet Day aims to raise awareness of emerging online issues and chooses a topic reflecting current concerns. The Internet has become an integral part of our daily life activities. From online banking to online shopping, online school, it is pertinent to create a better and safe internet not just for the adult but most importantly for the youths and children.

Tips for Keeping the Children Secure Online

We must understand that today’s children are fast becoming more committed to the online community than their parents, teachers, counsellors and guardians. This is a call for collective responsibility in making the internet safer for our children. When done in the right way, giving your children access to the internet will ensure safety, positive and responsible usage. The followings are suggestions on how to get you started, help you and your family to stay safe and positive online:

  1. We must spend time online with our children and set reasonable limits on their internet usage.
  2. We must warn them about the implications of social media, invasion of privacy, sexting, online predators, online gaming and cyberbullying.
  3. We must implement parental lock controls in keeping them away from inappropriate adult content.
  4. We must teach and encourage them to use only kid-friendly search engines such as Kiddle, KidRex, Safe Search Kid, so as to protect them from any dangerous content.
  5. We must teach them about personal/sensitive information which should not be shared online like their location, email address, ATM card details, phone number, date of birth, etc.
  6. We must encourage them to talk to you if they come across anything they find offensive or abusive.
  7. We must encourage them not to get into any online discussions about sex or pornography as these tend to attract potentially dangerous users.

Other Safety Tips for All

  1. Never send your ATM card details by email or to any third party for usage.
  2. Have a dedicated ATM card for your online shopping.
  3. Do your online shopping with sites that use full authentication (verified by VISA/MasterCard/Secure Code).
  4. Install and update frequently mobile Apps/software only from trusted sites.
  5. Always check the privacy setting to be sure you are not giving away too much information.
  6. Know that dangerous scam links can be hidden behind friendly images.
  7. Sensitive/financial transactions should be done only on personal devices and not on public devices.
  8. Always use a complex and unique password for different accounts.
  9. Take advantage of two-factor authentication wherever possible.
  10. Always remember that fake news/hate speech promotes hatred and incite violence.

Conclusion

Positive use of the internet makes our lives easy from the uses of internet in students daily life, research and development, business promotion and development, online shopping, working remotely, everyday politics, knowledge sharing, cashless economy, etc. It provides us useful data, information, and knowledge for personal, social and economic development. It has revolutionised communications, to the extent that it is now our preferred medium of everyday communication. In almost everything we do, we use the internet.

These benefits of communication can become a threat to safety. So much of our private lives and information get transferred over the internet. Safer Internet Day reminds us to protect ourselves from the dangers and make the internet a little safer for everyone.

About Author

John Odumesi is a Cybersecurity Researcher/Analyst presently with the Office of The National Security Adviser.

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