â€‹Parents have been challenged to gain awareness about the potential benefits as well as the risks involved in the use of internet by children and youth to enable them provide strategies to safeguard the children within the cyber space.â€‹
An increasing number of young people are said to be viewing inappropriate materials on the internet. According to reports, about 81% of children aged 14-16 have viewed adult material online.
In Ghana today, there is easy and continuous access to the internet as it provides tremendous opportunities for adolescents’ socialization. It allows them to connect with their peers as well as with complete strangers from across the world.
Since this clearly influence the social life of the young personâ€‹, J Initiative (JI) , a grassroots youth and family-focused NGO, is collaborating withâ€‹ World Vision Ghana â€‹ to advocate for the need to ensure that children in Ghana are protected from the negative effects of the internet.
At a stakeholders roundtable meeting under the theme ‘Online Safety of Ghanaian Children (Before Digital Migration)”, the stakeholders agreed to adopt the World Vision’s keeping children safe online (KCSO) tool kit to reach out to policy makers and other stakeholders
Keeping Children Safe Online is an interactive child friendly tool designed and developed for World Vision. It targets children aged 7-13 years and youth 13-18 years. The tool was developed with full child participation in designing the characters, voice over and content. KCSO interactive tool was originally developed in Cyprus and has now been used in 5 countries to date with high success rates for educating children, parents and teachers on how children can stay safe online.
The stakeholders who participated in the discussions haveâ€‹ also agreed on a couple of actionsâ€‹ for the way forward, which included:â€‹
To share the WVI (World Vision International) child online safety kit in order to seek further inputs from other stakeholders.
To edit the tool kit to make the content locally relevant (should be made available in local languages)
Tool kit must be online and accessible to all
Work together with other civil authorities to promote and educate parents.
The tool should be edited to suit the peculiar needs and challenges of children in Ghana.
Speaking to the Executive Director of J Initiative, Awo Aidam Amenyah after the program, she noted that: “The children we seek to protect are much more advanced and smart in their use of the internet and cutting them totally off from the use of the internet leads them into finding other means of getting information and it is becoming much easier when most devices we use nowadays are internet enabled”.
She therefore advised parents to “become friends with our children to make them confide in us, and then we can redirect them to the proper use of the internet. We must try to get a fair idea of the social media platforms available and how to maximize its use.”
It was regretted that even when countries with policies in place to check internet use by children are still battling with the adverse effects of the internet on children, Ghana has yet to implement policies on child safety online.
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