SAFER INTERNET DAY

Children warned against online predators, 30m sites down

Children warned not to befriend strangers online, not to share personal details — and never to meet

In Summary

• Children encouraged not to believe everything they see on the internet and always ask trusted adults when in doubt. 

• Common cybercrimes include solicitation, cyberbullying, identity theft, online fraud and child pornography. 

Anto Neo Soul talks to a girl on internet safety during the Safer Internet Day at the Communications Authority of Kenya offices on February 13.
CYBER SAFETY: Anto Neo Soul talks to a girl on internet safety during the Safer Internet Day at the Communications Authority of Kenya offices on February 13.
Image: WILDFRED NYANGARESI

Children were warned on Thursday to be careful of their internet safety and not to share personal details with strangers or say anything online they would not say in person.

By last December, the government had pulled down 30 million sites found to be illegal or a threat to children's safety on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 

Online predators pose as teens and tempt children into harmful real-world contact. Identity theft is yet another risk teens share their photos and too much personal information online.
Mercy Wanjau, Communicatons Authority

Speaking during the Safer Internet Day in Nairobi on Thursday, Communications Authority acting director general Mercy Wanjau said some sites pulled down were social media pages using images of children as their profile pictures.

 

Wanjau added that many children are tech-savvy and have access to mobile phones, making them more vulnerable to cybercrime.  

"Online predators are now posing as teens and tempting children into harmful real-world contact as well. Identity theft is yet another risk that occurs when teens share their photos and too much personal information online," she said. 

The CA, in collaboration with the National Kenya Computer Incident Response Team Coordination Centre, monitors and responds to cases of abuse and exploitation of children online.

Common cybercrimes include solicitation, cyberbullying, identity theft and online fraud and child pornography. 

According to a guide on child safety online, solicitation involves asking or engaging a minor in a conversation and during the course of the conversation asking for a physical meeting.

"The intentions of these meetings could be to lure the child to commit crimes, engage in sexual acts or kidnap and seek ransom," the guide reads.

Children will fall victim to cybercrime because criminals befriend them and establish an emotional connection with the motive of lowering the child's protective instincts. 

 

The director added that finding cybercriminals has been made more complicated with the anonymity of social networking sites. 

"... which makes it easier for people with bad intentions to target young teens and lure them into harmful conversations," she said. 

Google Kenya Director Charles Murito said parents admitted to being at a loss on how to help their children be safer online. 

Murito said Google is working closely with partners to ensure children are safer online including a family link which enables children to have a linked account to parents so they are able to monitor what they are doing online. 

He said safety for children is anchored on five key principles to ensure internet safety:

"The first principle is being online-smart to ensure you are not sharing things you aren't supposed to and remembering that what you cannot say in person, you cannot say online," he said. 

"The second principle is on being alert about who you are engaging online, the third is being internet strong by ensuring your passwords are safe," he said. 

Other principles include being kind to others online and flagging inappropriate content. 

The authority encouraged children not to believe everything they see on the internet and always ask parents, teachers or trusted adults when in doubt. 

Edited by R.Wamochie