The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has provided practical online safety tips for parents, care givers, and children.
It also covers what to do before things go wrong while children spend time online, and what to do if things go wrong.
In a document it released to the public, NCC said that 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.
Parents, the NCC said needed to create a balance between risk and opportunity.
It said, “Child online abuse is a societal concern which is being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Countries are developing measures to address and provide significant assurance of online safety for children, their families, and society at large.”
Educating young children about cyber safety, it said is complicated, as young children often do not understand the social and technical complexities of the internet.
“This difficulty in understanding arises because the internet is virtual and cannot be experienced firsthand by the sense. As computers are usually in a place children perceive as safe, the risks are not readily apparent to them.
“They do not understand that the computer can be networked and connected beyond the safe place to a world that can be both risky and dangerous. Young children and most adults, do not realize that materials posted on the internet often times, do not have external controls or standards to subscribe to.”
According to the tips provided by the NCC, to keep children safe online, parents and care givers should:
Parents should anticipate risks. Anticipation of risks will lead to appropriate control measures being put in place before a child is allowed access to digital devices or the internet. Some of these anticipatory control measures include: Parental education, care givers should be trained on how to guide children in online activities, schools have adopted the use of online platforms for education, parents should install child appropriate apps/search engines and install firewalls: Firewalls act as content filters. They help make sure non-age appropriate content does not appear on the child’s device.
The second according to NCC is to empower the child. Others are to pay attention and be observant, discuss and engage with your children and if your child is using online platforms or programs for schoolwork, ensure a healthy balance between non-school related online activities and offline time.
The two final tips for parent are reduce their own time online to model positive behaviour and use parental controls and safe search options.