KEETMANSHOOP – Deputy Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare Lucia Witbooi says decision makers should ensure there are opportunities in the curriculum of children to learn more about online safety through effective child protection strategies.
Delivering her keynote addresses during the celebration of World Safer Internet Day recently, Witbooi explained that this day should remind everyone to make the internet a little safer for everyone.
“Digital technology has transformed lives as well as changed and enhanced opportunities for children across the globe,” she explained. Witbooi added that internet users are now able to connect with people faster, find things easier and transfer information at the speed of light.
The politician further reasoned that if information and communication technology (ICT) is made universally accessible for children, it can equip them with the necessary skills needed to succeed in the fourth revolution. “At the same time, it can also expose them to cyberbullying as well as sexual abuse-and-exploitation on the negative side,” the politician argued.
She further reminded all stakeholders present that it is imperative that they should all play a role in creating and ensuring a safer and better internet for children. “Children and young people must help to create a better internet by being kind and respectful to each other online, protecting their reputations and stop sharing personal information, making them vulnerable to online predators,” Witbooi said.
Referring to the role of parents and caregivers, she urged them to empower and support children to use ICT responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively.
“Teachers, educators and social workers must help to create a better internet by equipping their pupils and students with digital skills and by developing their critical thinking skills, which will allow them to better navigate the online world,” she advised.
She then reasoned that the ITC industry can help to create a better internet by creating and promoting positive content and safe services online.
Witbooi noted that for this ultimate goal of a safer internet to be reached, one should strive towards expanding his/her own online safety portfolio and further respond to the negative side by reporting any inappropriate or illegal content on the internet.
Speaking at the same occasion, //Kharas regional governor Lucia Basson described the internet as a vast and instant evolving tool and further advised children to use the internet (Google) to search for information only and guard against bad content and cyberbullying.
Unicef representative Frauke de Kort in her remarks urged for mutual respect among children to behave on the internet toward others. “Avoid gossiping, sharing embarrassing pictures and harming others characters,” she explained. De Kort then called on parents and the general public to report online children sexual abuse and exploitation if they come across it to law enforcement agencies to protect these victims and bring the perpetrators to book.
Starting as an initiative of the European Union SafeBorders project in 2004 and taken up by the Insafe network as one of its earliest actions in 2005, Safer Internet Day has grown beyond its traditional geographic zone and is now celebrated in approximately 150 countries worldwide, including Namibia.