Keeping children safe online during lockdown
The risk of cyber child exploitation has grown dramatically as populations worldwide are forced to spend more time at home and online.
This publication is necessitated to understand that parenting strategy has drastically changed due to covid-19 and parents need help if they must allow their children stay in touch with their studies through the ongoing online classroom or wait till the school resumes.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic effect on internet usage. Home is the new hub. Since mid-January 2020, worldwide, March in Nigeria, online traffic has increased by over 25% – the fastest usage increase since the internet was developed. This has brought hundreds of millions of schoolchildren into online classrooms overnight. It has also led to increased risks of online child exploitation.
Recent reports have indicated a rise in child-abuse cases resulting from COVID-19. Home is not always a wholesome place for every child. By contrast, school is often a safe haven from family stress; a place where a child can spend time with teachers, coaches and other adults who look out for their best interests and welfare. The absence of the regular physical presence of these protectors is in itself a source of increased risk.
In the month of March, 2020, Mr Muhammad Adamu, Inspector General of Police in Nigeria, by the force spoke man DCP Frank Uba, warns “that due to the lockdown, cybercrime will increase. That intelligence obtained from the international criminal police organization headquarter in France indicated that cybercrime and other criminal activities will increase as scammer in Nigeria and all other part of the globe have begun to create and set up fraudulence website, E-commerce platform, fake social media account and emails claiming to sale and deliver covid-19 medical product”. Unfortunately it is the children that are on the receiving end due to lack of supervision.
In Canada, the Child Protection Centre (CPC) monitors known paedophile groups. In early April, the CPC alerted online safety groups to this chilling message, published on and extracted from a paedophile bulletin board: ‘With potentially millions of boys around the world being or soon to be forced to stay home from school, potentially unsupervised if parents are working (teens in particular) now is the time for cappers to do their part to assist the quarantine efforts. There is a dire need for enriching, structured activities for all these boys to engage in.’
At home, if parents are spending more time together it may lead to greater stress within the family. February and March data from China and Europe indicates that domestic violence increased following lockdown orders. In March, French authorities reported a 30% increase in domestic-violence reports the week after the stay-at-home order went into effect.
How does this violence influence online behaviour? When children are allowed access to mobile devices to be part of the online class without guardian’s monitoring and an App to check their activities, then it’s inevitable to witness domestic violence, which could be a form of pop up, the child download and sometime shared among the students as fun and deleted from their device for their parents not to suspect any form of immoral and risk in their usage, forgetting that these activities though deleted are stored up in the server. Online environments can seem ever more attractive, a virtual refuge. This puts them at even greater risk from manipulative predators who seek them out under the guise of providing friendship at a vulnerable moment.
Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, even the most nurturing and compassionate adults are also under financial and personal stress. They may be all too happy to allow children to keep themselves amused quietly in their room, on a games console or similar, while they work, prepare meals, clean and disinfect, or look after other children.
For instance, the children has access to their colleagues contact on whatsApp and can continue chatting after the online classroom with the contact gotten from the online class. When they are not monitored they get adventurous and open to predators.
Yet, just as wearing face masks and washing hands are the first line of defence against the coronavirus, awareness among primary caregivers of the risks of online child exploitation is also the first and necessary step in preventing it.
Suggested solution by Save African Children on Social Vices Initiative
- Because many schools have moved online indefinitely, school administrators should, at the very least, email parents a reminder about what can go wrong; how to minimize the risks of anything actually going wrong; and what to do if, despite their best endeavours, things do go wrong.
- Internet companies also need to do their part. Most worldwide electronic-communications providers have issued statements saying they take the protection of children very seriously and are implementing various measures to further the cause, but monitoring groups have yet to see evidence of an appreciable impact. Despite these moves, cases of violence against children still seem to be going up. Some electronic-communications providers have offered encryption upgrades on services that are currently unencrypted, but this will make it even harder for law enforcement to detect exploitation, apprehend offenders and protect children.
- Parents due to work cannot stay around their wards during the online classroom should not just leave the child without monitoring to avoid “story that touches” instead the parents can copy out the scheme of work, teach their children the much they can when they are at home or make time table for the child to read. So you don’t go through worst risk than inability to join in the online classroom.
- Get two of our books for free on Amazon.com and Okadabook.com. The books title:
- The Beauty of Social media
- The Blue Print; Surviving the digital world
These Books exposes the dangers online environment impose on kids, some of the dangerous acronyms used daily by our kids on social networks and how to keep them safe, on time usages, that is duration or period they should be online, need to avoid dangerous pop up and limit to usage online.
- The School administrators and parents need to have filtering Software installed on the E-library and device. We recommend an App known as BARK Nigeria. Bark Nigeria is an advanced technology platform that proactively alerts parents to dangers including cyberbullying, online predators, sexting, depression, suicidal thoughts, drugs and alcohol, profanity etc. You just need to connect your child’s social networks, email accounts to their system. Bark will then start monitoring their online behaviour/activities and send alerts by text or mail when it detects potential threats or signs of danger so you can review an issue, along with recommended actions on how to handle the situation.
For more details visit us at 2, Owerri Road, Asata, Stadium B/Stop, Enugu state.
Tel: +2348028834755, +2348067470800
Ramsey Ogagaoghene Jeffrey