• Digital access exposes children to a wealth of benefits and opportunities, but also to a host of risks.
• The First Lady Margaret Kenyatta said safety of children in the online space has been particularly critical during the COVID-19 crisis and there is need for awareness creation
The Communications Authority of Kenya on Wednesday unveiled a three-month awareness campaign to protect children and their digital footprint, as it steps up the advocacy on responsible use of Internet.
The Child Online Protection (COP) Phase II focuses on children and youth as the primary messengers and advocates to help promote awareness on benefits and vulnerabilities in the cyberspace amongst their peers.
Digital access exposes children to a wealth of benefits and opportunities, but also to a host of risks including access to harmful content, sexual exploitation and abuse, cyber bullying, and misuse of their private information.
Speaking during the launch, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta said safety of children in the online space has been particularly critical during the Covid-19 crisis and there is need for awareness creation and provision of information to children, parents, teachers and service providers in order to make the Internet a safer place for all. children.
“This period has brought to light the magnitude of the need to foster a safe environment across all platforms that our children access,” the First Lady said.
Adding, “The many possibilities that the Internet avails us, are a pointer that corresponding efforts are required to ensure the optimal exploitation of the resource by all of us, and particularly children."
ICT Innovation and Youth Affairs Cabinet Secretary. Joe Mucheru. said his Ministry in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Communications Authority of Kenya and private sector partners, are exploring ways of deploying technology to facilitate teaching and learning for pupils while at home.
“The Authority in collaboration with stakeholders have proposed a home-schooling policy to guide learners on how to use devices outside the schools,” Mucheru said.
CA Chairman Senator Kembi Gitura, noted that cyber criminals are taking advantage of the high uptake and usage of internet to lodge attacks, citing the reported online crime that rose by 37.8 per cent to 38.7 million in the quarter ending June 2021.
A majority of these threats were malware attacks, recording the highest jump of 6.9 per cent to stand at 23 million.
“Other than coming up with innovative ways to deal with cybercrime, we need to join hands in creating awareness on safe use of internet facilities. We need to empower our children, teachers and parents with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively guide children on the use of internet services,” Gitura said.
Acting CA Director General, Mercy Wanjau, said the Authority in partnership with the Ministry of Education will review the Schools Safety Manuals to incorporate child online protection and encourage schools to develop and implement mechanism that would facilitate a safer online experience for learners.
“We hope to work with all stakeholders concerned in order to achieve these objectives and create a better space for our children,” Wanjau said.
The COP was launched in 2015 by the Authority as a platform for awareness creation on the safety of children online. The first phase targeted parents, teachers and other minders of children.
The Authority is working with various partners, locally and internationally, in the COP programme.