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Keeping Nigeria’s children safe online

March 6, 2012  »  ICT PolicyNo Comment

As nations move up the ladder of Internet progress, they will need to pursue more advanced ICT policies. One example is Nigeria – a nation now with enough online users to warrant a devoted policy to safeguard children. Of course, implementing such a policy is a major challenge for a nation that doesn’t even have a unified national ICT policy. But, it’s a necessity considering the lowly state of Nigeria’s global Internet reputation.

How can society keep young adventurers safe in an online world full of risks? Much of the Internet is learned through discovery and there is much to be said about the freedom of speech. We can’t deny the Internet is most often used for entertainment purposes instead of idealistic efforts like m-health or e-governance. As aid workers, officials, doctors, and educators use the Internet for humanitarian efforts, most Nigerian youth spend their days full of SMS, email, chatting, online dating, gaming, and digital multimedia. Children often know more about the Internet than their parents or teachers.

Currently, Nigeria only has a policy framework devoted to the protection of children online. Executive Commissioner, stakeholder management of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Okechukwu Itanyi, understands the need to establish a collaborative network to promote the online protection of children. Suggestions of how to meet the needs of a formal initiative include public-private partnerships, teaching prevention in schools, and the use of open source software products in conjunction with regulatory framework.

There are an overwhelming number of moving parts involved if Nigeria, or any nation, is to successfully implement a nationwide program to keep children safe online. Still, an initiative is necessary to keep the youth of Africa’s most populous nation on track for a prosperous future. The question remains whether the eventual guidelines can be adequately enforced. After all, even most developed nations have struggled to keep children safe on the Internet.