Owing to the prevalence of child online abuse in Nigeria and indeed the world, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has highlighted some safety measures that parents in Nigeria can take to protect their children online, especially in the Covid-19 era, which has forced schools to stay at homes and making children to spend more time online.
In an educational material prepared by the telecom regulator titled ‘Keeping children safe online: Advice to parents and caregivers’, NCC said the document was prepared to increase education and awareness on Child Online Protection, especially within the context of this COVID-19, where schooling activities and several other engagements are going online.
“It is part of the efforts of the Commission to ensure Protect, Inform and Educate telecoms consumers, especially children users of telecoms services. We hope you would be able to create a different narrative(s) from this document. NCC is the source of the document,” it said.
The Commission believes that Child online abuse is a societal concern that is being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, as a regulator of the telecom industry, it cannot stay without giving some regulatory advice as part of its mandates.
“Parents have to contend with the overwhelming and scary possibility of a child being hurt by faceless individuals while surfing the internet, and a perceived inability/incapability to protect the child. The good news is that the internet is not all gloom and doom. The internet is a world of endless possibilities waiting to be explored by young, adventurous and impressionable minds. Undoubtedly, there are many great ways children can use connected devices to learn and play, but there are also risks. With the right tools and strategy, parents and caregivers have the opportunity to support and guide children to avoid online risks and have safer experiences,” it added in the document.
Here are some helpful tips NCC has highlighted in the document:
During non-school hours at home, establish time limits around when and for how long your child can be online.
Use the available technologies — parental controls and tools to monitor online time allow you to measure and set time limits on device use or internet access. Be honest and open about why you want to use these technologies.
Turn off notifications for social media apps to help minimize distractions.
Depending on your child’s age, you can establish a family tech agreement that balances time spent in front of screens with offline activities. You can find templates by searching online.
Include ‘offline’ activities in your routine at home — this can include family exercise, reading time or board games.