Nations are presently grappling with the impact of COVID-19, including the fact that young people are compelled to spend more time at home which implies, more screen time (offline and online), the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has observed as it has launched online campaign aimed at educating parents and caregivers on how to keep children safe on the Internet.
Reports show that a child’s digital life can also be the reason for a family conflict, with 55% of parents in a recent survey by Kaspersky, claiming that their child spends too much time on the phone or doing nothing useful (27%).
In another report, 25% of Nigerian parents rate their children social media account as ‘potentially dangerous’.
Now, NCC recognizes that the impact of COVID-19 pandemic has brought to bear a shift in the norms, putting more activities, including education of children, online.
In the executive summary of the campaign, NCC said “This has leapfrogged Nigerian children into the future. Online activities have acquired new meaning and become the reality of Nigerian parents and children.
“Screen time and screen activities are the new normal. Parents are constantly searching for online learning platforms, TV stations are providing more child-based educational content and schools are teaching via Zoom, Google Classroom and YouTube. Cyberspace, the internet and online activities are here to stay. The future has arrived, welcome!!
“The fusion of children and the internet has not given birth to new concerns as is widely perceived, it has magnified the critical need for parents and care givers to step up to the new norms of Online Life for Children, thus the need for Online Parenting.
“Concerns of safety and privacy have been with us from the beginning of time. What has changed however, is the invisible and borderless nature of these concerns and the magnitude of the consequences when they occur.
“Parents have to contend with the overwhelming and scary possibility of a child being hurt by faceless individuals while surfing the internet, and a perceived inability/incapability to protect the child”.
The good news is that the internet is not all gloom and doom, the Commission assures parents and caregivers.
“The internet is a world of endless possibilities waiting to be explored by young, adventurous and impressionable minds. Undoubtedly, there are many great ways children can use connected devices to learn and play, but there are also risks. With the right tools and strategy, parents and caregivers have the opportunity to support and guide children to avoid online risks and have safer experiences.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant change in mode of operation has compelled all stakeholders, parents, care givers, governments and industry players, to actively pursue, create and promote a safe online environment for children.
In the subsequent publications, TechEconomy.ng shall avail for parents, care givers, and children with the practical online safety tips as listed by the Nigerian Communications Commission.
It covers what to do before things go wrong, while children spend time online, and what to do if things go wrong.
…To Be Continued.