Every year on the second day of the second week of February we celebrate the Safer Internet Day (SID). The online safety landscape has evolved over recent years, from a focus on creating a ‘safer’ internet, to creating a ‘better’ internet. The main purpose for this day is to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile devices, especially, among children and young people.
This year’s theme is: “Play Your Part for a better internet”.
The internet has revolutionized the way we interact with each other in all spheres of life. As a result, we are increasingly connected as a society. Today, our children are steadily adopting the use of the internet supported by the gradual price reduction in both access costs and mobile technology. Whereas the internet offers advantages in the areas of learning and interaction, children are faced with risks due to their vulnerable nature. There are cyber-criminals that are increasing targeting vulnerable children with malicious intent, damaging interactions towards sexual grooming and exploitation. They are exposed to indecent harmful material as well as facing the risk of cyber harassment and sexual exploitation.
As a parent or guardian, Netsmartz gives you simple steps that can be taken to observe a safer internet for your child. For starters;
- Keep the computer in a high-traffic area of your home.
- Establish limits for which online sites children may visit and for how long.
- Continually talk with your children about online safety.
- Surf the Internet with your children and let them show you what they like to do online.
- Remember that Internet technology can be mobile, so make sure to monitor cell phones, gaming devices, and laptops.
- Know who is connecting with your children online and set rules for social networking, instant messaging, e-mailing, online gaming, and using webcams.
The National Information Technology Authority – Uganda in partnership with other entities like Internet Society Chapter Uganda and Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) have spearheaded efforts in creating awareness in this area with special emphasis on Child Online Safety. NITA-U collaborated with the Internet Society Uganda to develop the Online Safety Educational Toolkit to educate students on how to recognize online and offline potential internet risks; engage children and the young adults in a two-way conversation about online and offline risks; empower children to help prevent themselves from being exploited online, or to report victimization to a trusted adult; support and enhance community online safety education efforts.
A Computer Misuse Act that was enacted in 2011 contains provisions against cyber bullying, cyber stalking and child pornography. The Law is in effect and criminalizes such acts.
Other efforts to create a better & safer internet in Uganda include, a multi-sectoral working group on Child Online Protection has been put in place centered at the Ministry of Internal Affairs with the main purpose of educating all categories of internet users including children on responsible use as well as creating awareness among key stakeholders and duty bearers.
However, protecting children & young people online is a global challenge, which requires a global approach. NITA-(U) through collaboration with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) to put in place a ‘Child Sexual Abuse Reporting Page’ for Uganda where citizens in Uganda can report online child sexual abuse material. Are you playing your part towards a better & safer Internet? Happy Safer Internet Day!
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