In this second part of the advice to parents and caregivers, on the online safety of their children and wards, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC and Cece Yara Foundation take a look at the opportunities and risks inherent, in children being online while striking a balance between these, as well as the four categories of risks that children are exposed to, online, so the parents and caregivers may be aware. Please, read through below.
Creating a Balance: ‘Opportunity’ versus ‘Risk’
Child online abuse is a societal concern, which is being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Countries are developing measures to address and provide significant assurance of online safety for children, their families and society at large.
Let us be clear, online safety is not the non-existence of harm or risk, rather it is creating the atmosphere, or opportunity to overcome the risks, while enjoying the inherent benefits of using the internet.
Educating young children about cyber safety is complicated, as young children, often, do not understand the social and technical complexities of the internet.
This difficulty in understanding, arises because the internet is virtual and cannot be experienced firsthand, by the sense.
As computers are usually in a place that children perceive as safe, the risks are not readily apparent to them.
They do not understand that the computer can be networked and connected, beyond the safe place, to a world that can be both risky and dangerous.
Young children and most adults do not realize that, materials posted on the internet, often, do not have external controls, or standards to subscribe to.
What are the risks children face online?
Children face several risks on the internet. These risks can be grouped into four broad categories.
Consists of harmful information and material that children encounter online.
For example, pornography, violence, fake news, (misinformation).
Meeting online friends offline can lead to negative consequences. Online grooming can, also, occur.
This is a situation where a person befriends a young person, to gain their confidence and then, sexually abuses them.
There are other physical and psychological risks that could lie in a young person, building friendships with strangers online.
It includes game addiction, mobile phone overuse, impaired sight, loss of confidence and reputational harm, due to unguided comments.
This is the risk children face from being exposed to making willing and unwilling commercial decisions online – including giving out personal data, gambling and shopping addiction.
In the next piece that will be published shortly, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC and Cece Yara Foundation, put forth what parents and caregivers can do, to keep their children and wards safe online, from the categories of risks stated above.
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