As a parent in Kenya today, we generally do everything we can to keep our children safe and well. From getting them to “slip, slop, slap” shape before going out in the sun to being careful when crossing the road.
With 89% of its population online, Kenya has one of the highest levels of internet penetration in the world. Use of internet has increased in the recent years and as a result increasing number of children who now have unsupervised access to the internet. While children can derive great benefit from internet access, it also renders them vulnerable to risk such as:
- Exposure to fraudulent/illegal practices.
- Exposure to unsuitable content and potential harassment from third parties.
- Addictive and compulsive content such as gambling and gaming which may as a result incite young people to aggressiveness and violence.
Thus the need to introduce some ways to protect them from all this. It’s time to introduce some cyber safety know-how to your parental toolkit and here is a few ways how:
1. Talk openly to your child about their online activity.
As soon as your child starts accessing the internet, talk to them about what they are reading, watching and who they are communicating with online. Ensure to keep the conversation going as they grow older.
2. Keep screens and devices where you can see them.
Always monitor your child’s time online, particularly younger children. Keep the computer in a central spot in the home. An area where it’s easy to keep an eye on what your child is doing and viewing online.
3. Know your parental controls.
Innocent searches online can lead to not-so-innocent results, therefore it’s wise to know how to use the parental controls/search restrictions offered by web browsers and internet service provider. https://www.internetmatters.org/parental-controls/.
4. Know who your children’s online friends are.
As adults, we know that some people online aren’t who they say they are but children and young people can be alarming naïve about who they are chatting. Because of this, we need to teach them to be cyber wise from an early age.
5. Teach your children to protect their privacy and most of all keep their location private.
Most apps, networks and devices have geo-tagging features. These features make your whereabouts public and can lead someone directly to you. These features therefore should be turned off for obvious privacy and safety reasons. https://www.esafety.gov.au/ .
6. Be #SocialNetwork
Talk to your children about how they can stay safe on social networks. Encourage them to talk to a trusted person when they are worried and ensure they are aware of what constitutes online bullying, both as a perpetrator and a victim.
Ultimately, you don’t want to instil fear in your child and prevent them from experiencing the many educational, entertainment and social benefits of the internet but rather give them the skills and knowledge they need to know how to make the most of it and avoid the dangers.
If your child uses social networks, be sure they know how to:
- Report inappropriate and/or offensive posts.
- Block someone.
- Keep information private.