Safer Internet Day: Empowering the Digital Youth of Tomorrow

The world has experienced a refined and yet a profound digital evolution in the past forty years or so which has seen the rise of the Internet and its influence expand to more than 30 million people worldwide today.

The Safer Internet day is upon us, highlighting the many benefits that have come from a more accessible web such as, cross border communication, innovation, research, limitless access to information and so much more.

Like any open resource, many times there are some challenges faced and those who seek to manipulate and misuse it so as to harm, defame or take advantage of others and this is what makes empowering the youth on these dangers and how they can keep themselves safe online is so important.

What is Safer Internet Day 2018 all about?

The Safer Internet Day aims to promote the safety and positive use of digital technology for children and young people around the world. This year’s slogan is to create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you.”

The day is led by three charities – Childnet, the South West Grid for Learning and the Internet Watch Foundation.

This wonderful campaign calls upon youth, parents, leaders, teachers, security organisations and tech companies to join together and create a safer forum for everyone on the web.

As the Internet continues to grow and expand further, one has to wonder and worry about what it has in store for our children’s security and young adults alike. The creeping dark side of the web has entrenched itself in more ways than we can imagine.

The rise of cyber bullying, online harassment, pornography and other vices have deeply infested our society which begs the question, “Are children safe on the Internet?”. The answer to that question could vary among different peers but most agree that, “Not Enough!”

We should empower parents and communities to protect and offer guidance to the youth on how to better use the cyberspace and at the same time safe guard themselves.

In 2014, NITA Uganda alongside other local and international partners advocated for the Child Online Protection Drive in efforts to identify risks and vulnerabilities to children in cyberspace and create awareness on child online protection.

In 2015, Uganda hosted the ITU African conference on online child protection at Speke Resort Munyonyo where a number of issues were raised about the dangers of the Internet to society more especially children.

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has urged global governments to form computer emergency response teams (CERTs) to coordinate monitoring of computer usage and abuse.

But, is that all that’s needed to win the war against cyber abuse?

According to a research survey by ECPAT, about 62% of the youths did not talk to anyone when confronted them with an uncomfortable situation online, 44% chose their friends, 19% chose siblings, 18% talked to parents, 11% talked to teachers and only 3% reported to police.

Policing our children and monitoring their activities online isn’t solving the problem, engagement through open safe spaces where youth can talk about their experiences in the comfort of their peers who have experienced similar ordeals is a great step forward.

That is why Genopen conducts small periodic events to give us opportunity to listen to, share and understand young individuals so we can build a safer and more productive internet experience together.

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