ONLINE SAFETY: WHY YOU SHOULD CARE!

Walking in from work the other day i met my six year old son hurriedly trying to close a tab he had opened on the computer while doing his homework and when i moved closer i realised he had been watching a film that wasn’t age appropriate for him . In that second different thoughts ran through my mind of the benefits/dangers the internet might have on him and i made a conscious decision to teach my kid on how to be safe, smart and make responsible choices online

We live in an age where almost everyone is connected to the internet in one way or the other. We are either connected through laptops, Computers, mobile phones or tablets. The potential for the internet to be beneficial and valuable is huge but as long as you use the internet you could be at risk of abuse and illegal activity.

Even though some users are genuine it is very easy to hide your identity online so it is possible to come in contact with people you would normally avoid. Some examples of cyber abuse and crimes include Sexting, Cyber Bullying, Cyber stalking, Identity theft, fraud just to mention a few.

Even though we often overlook or ignore these crimes there are real life unfortunate situations that have happened as a result of these issues. There is therefore need for internet users (especially young people) to be educated about online safety so that we can create a safe online environment for users.

Today’s generation of Children are very cyber savvy, they can do amazing things with the computer and most of them get to use the internet for their take home assignments. But they might not be able to handle the overwhelming situations and online problems that arise from making uninformed decisions.

To remedy this, Parents, Teachers and guardians are tasked with the responsibility of understanding how kids/young people use technology and social networks.They also need to learn about technology literacy, online reputation and social awareness as a guide to protecting kids against bullying, reputation, identity theft, and cyber crimes.

One example from the numerous internet crimes that has happened in Nigeria is the case of 24 year old Cynthia, the only Daughter of General Frank Osokogu (rtd). Cynthia was reported to have been chatting with two undergraduates on facebook for two months and in this short time disclosed personal information to them and also agreed to travel to Lagos to meet with them. The young lady ended up getting drugged and killed. Click link below to see story

http://www.vanguardngr.com/2012/08/how-ex-generals-daughter-cynthia-was-killed-by-facebook-friends/

As Webrangers around the world fight against cyber bullying and verbal abuse let’s all join in the cause and be digitally responsible. Our security on the internet is a collective responsibility even though we might never be able to eradicate the danger of interacting online we can reduce it so let’s exercise safety online and encourage our kids to do the same.

This article was first published on Medium and was written by Mbanan Mku

Mbanan Mku is a Safer Internet Fellow with the Nigeria Integrity Film Awards (Homevida) and is passionate about creating an online safe haven for kids.

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