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Why children still remain vulnerable using the internet- Investigation

Technology has enhanced self-development and economic development in so many natural ways, the internet is a natural tool for disseminating information, accessing a wide range of information and contacting people around the world. However, it comes with new types of risks.

Despite the promulgation of the Child Right Acts and all its ancillaries in some states in country, the Nigerian child still remains vulnerable when it comes to the use of the internet. The society at large only presents a weeping scenario when children vent their spleen and atrocities gathered via the internet on their victims and property.

Based on this trending milieu where each child is aimed with phones by parents and the females their male friends, the parents and the society appears to have lost touch how to monitor them. Tony Nwakaegho decided to examine  the nitty-gritty that has made the child to be viewed as both a victim as well as a culprit by virtue of what they post and watch on the internet.

The President Cyber Security Experts Association of Nigeria (CSEAN), Mr Mr. Remi Afon while speaking with Daily Times outlined some of the key concerns to include issues affecting every Internet users, especially cyberbullying.

“Cyberbullying is bullying that happens online. It can happen in an email, a text message, an online game, or on a social networking site. It might involve rumors or images posted on someone’s profile or passed around for other people to see,” he explained.

CSEAN president also advised the public to be weary of bullying, asserting “Don’t stand for bullying—online or off. Treat others the way you want to be treated—whether you’re interacting with them online, on your phone or in person.

He urged youths and students to always speak up, mostly when they see something inappropriate on a social networking site or in a game or chat room, let the website know and tell an adult “you trust” by using ‘Report Abuse’ links which could help keep sites fun for everyone.

He stressed that his team have started rolling out the campaign on Stop, Think, Connect campaign in tertiary institutions and secondary schools based on what has been happening on the internet.

On his part, the Lead Strategist, DigitalSENSE Africa, Mr. Remmy Nweke said there is need to stimulate consciousness on the public, especially in Nigeria and among the youths and students on positive use of the Internet rather than the notorious yahoo, yahoo syndrome.

He said it would in addition help in discovering future ethical information security professionals by catching them young for a better Internet eco-system from this part of the world.

Mr Emmanuel Edet of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and member, NiRA Board of Trust, told the Daily Times that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has an initiative called Child Online Protection with which they are collaborating with International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to set up the framework for protecting children as well as educating parents on how to protect children.

“We are trying to work with them at National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and at the same time within the framework of the cyber security act and cybercrime act as well. I think putting that together will actually help, but I think the major initiative that will help to achieve the highest degree of safety of children online is education. The parents should be trained on how to monitor their children on how to use the internet. At the same time the children should be trained to know the pit falls and what to avoid while using the internet,” Edet stated.

He hinted that China is one of the countries that have their own gate way to protect their internet, adding that there are some of their sites you cannot access in China.

“Everything about sharing information in China is unique as they have their own Face Book, Twitter, so anything you see outside China is copied in a manner within China. In an attempt to satisfy their people that whatever others are getting outside there we also have it available inside here.

“The problem comes when those inside want to get information from outside uncensored that is when the problem comes. Sometimes they allow access to this site and sometimes they do not. There are some sites in China you cannot access like Google US.

“That is how they have structured their internet and so with a click of their button they can shut down their internet and people will not be able to gather and protest.”

It will be recalled that the Federal government recently through the Minister of Information and Culture alerted Nigerians to the existence of a newly-launched mobile application developed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) for propagating Jihad to children.

In a recent statement issued in Abuja, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, said the mobile application, tagged ‘Huroof’ (Arabic alphabets or letters), is to be used by ISIS to teach children the Arabic alphabets with the aid of guns, military tanks and cannons.

”The application utilizes colourful illustrations that attract and engage the attention of young children,” the Minister said.

He urged members of the public in general and parents in particular to be vigilant and to prevent their children and wards from being indoctrinated.

Some experts also advised parents to ask how your children use the internet; make them show you some of their favorite sites and discuss with them; make them aware that there are things on the internet which may upset them and that they can always talk to you or any trusted adult.

Other tips includes making sure your child realize they should never give out personal details, such as name, address, school and telephone numbers, to online friends, they do not know in the real world and tell them never to respond to junk emails or open attachments that are from people they don’t know.

Be aware of any changes in the way children use the internet, such as the amount of time they spend online, also support your child to report bullying online, by text or contacting you immediately; encourage children to use nicknames and login names that don’t reveal any personal information about them; use the parental control settings on your browser, search engine and internet security package; work with your children to understand how search engines work so that they don’t stumble across inappropriate content; consider using the filtering software that is available from your internet service provider or from retailers – these can help to block inappropriate material.

Make sure your child understands the smart rules- SAFE, MEETING, ACCEPTING, RELIABLE, TELL.

However, care must be taken to ensure that children pick only vital information online and the use of ICT does not change the young and complex mind of a child.

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