By Omobayo Azeez
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has disclosed that it has underway an awareness project aimed at sensitising the Nigerian child on the safe use of the Internet.
The was expressed by Umar Danbatta, the executive vice chairman (EVC) of the commission, in his opening remark at a joint workshop on child online protection which started on Tuesday.
The workshop was organised by International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in collaboration with the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), which is a training arm of the NCC, established in 2004.
According to Danbatta, the Internet has become an indispensable element of everyday life and children are not excluded but particularly vulnerable to its disadvantages because young persons constitute the largest users of the Internet.
“Subsequently, as a result of the ubiquitous availability of Internet access in homes, schools, libraries, mobile phones and so on, children are increasingly becoming involved in the use of new technological applications and taking advantage of the opportunity they provide for learning, research, and entertainment,” he said.
The EVC explained that as a follow-up to several initial efforts made in adopting the International ITU guidelines on Child Online Protection, the Commission developed a draft of Nigerian Child Online Protection Policy (NCOPP).
The EVC said the NCOPP will be further reviewed, taking into consideration the evolving global technology and practices in the cyber space as well as develop the revised National Child Online Protection document which will comprise of a policy, strategy and action plan.
Danbatta further stated that the sensitisation campaign the NCC is embarking on seeks to, amongst other things, enhance safety online so Nigerian children can competitively engage one another in productive and guided interactions.
The awareness, he said, will also enable the provision of a safe and secured cyber space for Nigerian digital citizens, along with promoting positive use and experience from the Internet for children and young people, as well as provide regional advocacy and awareness for Nigerian Child Online Protection Policy and recommend safety measures.
“The sensitisation campaign will also provide regional awareness incorporating local languages and cultural norms; share knowledge and experience while facilitating international strategic partnerships to define and implement concrete initiatives as well as increase the understanding of child online safety among government, industry, educators and civil society organizations,” he said.
Meanwhile, Odunayo Sanya, the General Manager, Planning and Customer Management at MTN, a partner in organising the workshop, emphasise the necessity to balance the benefits of the Internet with pitfalls.
She charged parents, regulators, service providers and government to work earnestly and collaboratively to achieve this.
According to her, “Understanding how to traverse the potential pitfalls online and shield our children from cybercrime are critical skills today, much less for the future workforce.
“To be successful in securing future success, government, regulators, service providers, and parent teachers associations need to work together to create the much-needed controls, awareness, and education for the protection of our children online,” Sanya said.