Digital activists have called for a safer and better internet that protects children when they get online.
The month of February each year is dedicated for activism that promotes safe and positive use of digital technology for the children and young people.
On Tuesday 9th February, the day set aside to discuss how to make the web a safe place for everyone especially children, activists demanded better strategies in realizing this.
During a virtual forum to make the 2021 Africa Safer Internet Day, various speakers made a case for why African children in particular need better designs digitally that makes it safer for them to explore online.
Mama Fatima Singhateh, UN Special Rapporteur on sale the and sexual exploitation of children gave a keynote address highlighting the dangers children are exposed to daily and why they need to be better protected.
Mr. John Omo, Secretary General Africa Telecommunications Union asked member states at the Union to sustain actions that are deliberating protecting children online.
Mr Charles Aheto Tsegah, an Independent Education Consultant from Ghana said the Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the digital space into unavoidable environment for users including children.
He said to protect children online, stakeholders in the sector must be actively involved to stop abuses.
Ida Jallow, Program Coordinator at the International Telecommunication Union Regional Office for Africa based in Ethiopia said policy makers and key stakeholders in the digital sector must prioritize laws that make the internet safer for all especially children.
Dr. Bubacarr Bah, German Research Chair in Mathematics of Data Science African Institute for Mathematics Sciences (AIMS) South Africa said researchers in Africa are expected to focus on finding evidence-based solutions to challenges confronting children safely being online.
He said research has a key role to play in finding solutions that relate to digital technologies on children, technologies that take children’s rights into consideration and integration of online protection systems for children.
Another speaker, Jethro Jones who is a former school principal and Author of the book SchoolX also highlighted the need for better school management system that creates room for technologies that benefit children safely.
A teacher from the Sierra Leone International Mission School, Kassim S Kabia, told the forum that teachers have key roles to play in Child Online Protection due to the contact hours they have with kids.
An African child rights activist, Barr Martha Oyanta Daniel who is also the Executive Director, Advocacy for Children’s Rights Initiative in Nigeria said it is the rights of children to be on the internet but most importantly to be safe on that platform.
She said parents have a major role to play to ensure that their children not only benefit from the opportunities available online but remain safe when they visit the internet.
Frederick S Lane, a Lecturer, Author and Expert in Cybersecurity and Technology added to the role of parents in Child Online Protection by sharing some best practices for parenting.
He highlighted the need for parents to have conversations with their children on what they are doing online and the best way to access the most safer tools.
Civil society groups have for years been pushing for a safer internet for all including children.
Kobia David Simon, Regional Education Adviser East & Southern Africa Education Out Loud Program stressed why activism by civil society groups must continue.
There are many children who continue to explore electronic sports online and during those moments they get exposed to abuses.
Michael Oti-Adjei, digital manager for Ghanaian media organization, Media General said there is the need to regulate the E-sports space so children access that tool but safely.
The theme for the 2021 Safer Internet Day has been on “Positioning and Partnering for Child Online Protection” is apt for the period that we are in.”
Support for the Africa Safer Internet Day 2021 has come from the National Communications Authority, Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors, Facebook-Africa, Africa Digital Rights Hub, Innovare Learning Ltd and Dimension Data Limited among others.
It’s #SaferInternetDay hurray! My name is Sango others have other names for me which is fine. I wish all the children in #Africa & the #world a #SafeOnline experience. Ask me questions about #OnlineSafety,2gether we create a Safer internet. #ASID2021 @ITU pic.twitter.com/mR1zOV8dCD
— Child Online Africa (@COnlineAfrica) February 9, 2021